Belfast Telegraph

Bravery awards for policemen who risked lives in fire rescue bid

By Staff Reporter

Five police officers are to be awarded top national bravery honours for risking their lives in a horror fire in Enniskillen just after Christmas 2015.

Sgt Brian Balfour, and PCs Daniel Finnegan, Clive Hicks, Damien Maguire and Wayne Robinson, are to receive the Royal Humane Society's Testimonials on Parchment.

The award recognises their courage for going into a blazing house in Silverhill Park, on December 27 in a bid to save anyone in the building.

Sadly they were all beaten back by the smoke and flames and the occupants, Franklin Reid (70) and Daphne Reid (64) both lost their lives. Mrs Reid died at the scene and Mr Reid died later in hospital.

First to arrive at the scene were Sgt Balfour and Pcs Maguire and Robinson.

The house was already engulfed in flames but they believed people, possibly children, could be trapped inside and went into the blaze.

However, they were beaten back by the thick smoke.

Then Pcs Finnegan and Hicks arrived and together with Sgt Balfour they also attempted to go into the building but were again beaten back by the dense smoke. It was not until the fire service arrived that Mr and Mrs Reid were found and brought out.

In addition to the awards, the five officers have also won the personal praise of Royal Humane Society secretary, Dick Wilkinson.

Speaking at the Society's London headquarters as he announced the awards, he said: "All five richly deserve the awards they are to receive.

"It takes enormous courage to go into a blazing building and anyone who does is putting their life on the line. They could be overcome by smoke and heat or there could be an explosion.

"These courageous officers didn't hesitate to do their best though.

"All five of them went into the building, some of them crawling on their hands and knees. However, they were all beaten back by the conditions. They were tremendously brave, though."

No date has yet been fixed for presentation of the awards which have been made following a recommendation from the PSNI, but it is expected to take place in the near future.

The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries.

The Queen is its patron and its president is Princess Alexandra. It is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.

It was founded in 1774 by two of the day's eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan.

Their primary motive was to promote techniques of resuscitation.

However, as it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, the awards scheme evolved, and today a variety of awards are made depending on the bravery involved.

The Society also gives awards to non-healthcare professionals who perform a successful resuscitation.

Since it was set up the society has considered over 87,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards.

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