Police officers given award for battling through a blaze to save vulnerable man who set fire to himself

19 October 2022, 23:05

Police Sergeant Michael McGuirk and Police Constable Nikki Smith
Police Sergeant Michael McGuirk and Police Constable Nikki Smith won the award. Picture: Met Police

By Kit Heren

Two police officers have been given an award for climbing into a burning building to rescue a vulnerable man who had set fire to himself, and keep his neighbours safe.

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Sergeant Michael McGuirk and Constable Nikki Smith, both 30, were called to a report of a man suffering a mental health crisis inside a flat in Barnet in north London.

They arrived to find the man had set himself and his ground-floor flat on fire.

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They began fighting their way inside the flat. Unable to get in the door, Sergeant McGuirk squeezed his way in through a small window, getting a deep gash to his knee in the process.

After isolating the fire by turning over the bed, he went further into the flat to clear a path to the front door.

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Meanwhile, PC Smith had evacuated families from neighbouring flats to prevent any further injuries.

Having cleared the doorway, PC McGuirk went back into the blaze to rescue the man. Once outside, the two officers provided life-saving CPR until paramedics arrived.

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Speaking after receiving the award for bravery at the police excellence awards, PC Smith said: “The fire was one of those times where you go into fight or flight mode and luckily we went into fight mode. There is no other job like policing.”

Sergeant McGuirk added: “I feel really proud and surprised to win this award when considering the other nominations. I didn’t join the police to win a bravery award but I did join to save lives. That’s the job.”

Speaking at the awards, commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: “These awards celebrate the best of the Met and are one way we recognise the incredible contributions individuals and teams made protecting and serving the people of London.

“Against this success, in stark contrast, there are some very real challenges. This week is a tough one for the Met.

There is no denying that and there will be some difficult challenges as we fix the things we need to.“But I remain optimistic for one reason.

"I know we will succeed in making the necessary changes, because of you and those like you, the fantastic, dedicated, honest and often heroic officers and staff who make up the vast majority of our people. The very best of those we heard about today.

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