Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Shirley Towers fire: No police charges over firemen deaths

Firefighters James Shears and Alan Bannon

Police have said they will not pursue any prosecutions over a tower block blaze in Southampton which killed two firefighters.

James Shears, 35, and Alan Bannon, 38, died tackling the fire at the 15-storey Shirley Towers on 6 April 2010.

Hampshire police confirmed a criminal investigation had concluded and no charges would be brought.

Charges could still be brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is carrying out its own investigation.

A spokesman said: "The HSE investigation into Shirley Towers is continuing and we have worked closely with Hampshire police during their investigation.

'Difficult time'

"We shall be presenting a report to the coroner in advance of the inquest. We are unable to comment further."

Image caption People were moved out of 12 flats above and below the fire

The fire service and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is also conducting an inquiry.

The findings from the police investigation are now being passed on to the coroner to form part of the inquest.

The blaze which killed the two men started in the ninth floor of the tower block in Church Street after a curtain left draped over a light bulb caught fire.

Mr Bannon was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire and Mr Shears died in hospital.

All residents in the flats were rescued.

Post-mortem tests showed Mr Shears, of Poole, Dorset, and Mr Bannon, of Bitterne, Southampton, died of exposure to excessive heat.

John Bonney, chief officer of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This continues to be a difficult time for the two firefighters' families and members of staff in the service as we await the coroner's inquest, but we will remain focussed on bringing all of the investigations to a conclusion."

UK fire service practices were changed after the blaze.

The number of fire engines that respond to fires in high-rise buildings has now been increased and there have been changes to equipment and tactics.

Both men, who had young families, served with Red Watch at St Mary's Fire Station.

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