Northern Ireland

Enniskillen: Police officers hailed as heroes at fire deaths inquest

The house where the fire broke out - damage can be seen at the front of the property
Image caption The inquest found that the fire was started by a cigarette falling on to a carpet.

A coroner has praised emergency services staff who attended a house fire in County Fermanagh that claimed the lives of two people.

Daphne Reid, 66, died after a fire broke out at her Silverhill Park home in Enniskillen on 27 December 2015.

Her husband Franklin, who was 70, died just over a week later from injuries sustained in the blaze.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said police officers disregarded their own safety to try to rescue the couple.

He added that they should be hailed as heroes.

Recognition

The fire began when a cigarette fell on to a carpet in a bedroom where Mr Reid was sleeping.

The inquest in Enniskillen on Monday heard how police officers, who were the first of the emergency services staff to arrive at the scene, did not follow official training guidelines that say all rescue attempts should be left to the fire service.

Image caption A firefighter entered the house without breathing apparatus in an attempt to save the couple

Mr McCrisken said the Police Service of Northern Ireland should consider an official recognition for the officers who tried to save the couple.

PC Daniel Finnegan broke windows to let some smoke out before attempting to enter the burning house.

He told the coroner: "It was a personal judgment call."

Smoke

PC Damien Maguire also attempted to enter the house through the burning, but was prevented from doing so by thick smoke.

The coroner also praised paramedics and firefighters, one of whom entered the property without breathing apparatus to rescue Mr Reid.

Enniskillen fire station commander Padraig McKeon arrived at the scene shortly after the failed police efforts to access the pensioners.

The inquest heard that he felt able to enter the property without breathing apparatus because much of the smoke had left the building.

More on this story