In January 2021, Police Constables Andy Glover, Beth Hindley, Rich Hall and Lynsey Kingston were alerted by a Doncaster service station worker about the appearance and demeanour of a man buying fuel, who had suggested he was intending to harm himself.
Police staff identified the man and an address he was connected to. A short time later a male was reported acting suspiciously at that address and, suspecting it might be the same person, the four officers were dispatched to the house.
On arrival, the officers were faced with a man who was intent on setting fire to the house.
PC Glover said: “Lynsey and I went down the side of the house and it was pitch black. All of a sudden the man came round with a container of liquid, which we presumed was petrol as we could smell the vapours. He sloshed it towards us and we moved back.”
The officers challenged him and attempted to stop his actions, but the man proceeded to throw petrol at the house and also over himself.
When the officers realised he was going to set the house on fire, they evacuated the family who lived in the house, as well as the neighbours.
PC Glover continued: “The next thing we knew, the house had gone up like a torch. But we got the people out to safety.”
The fire service arrived and put out the blaze, however the man who started the fire had also set himself alight and sadly later died from his injuries.
PC Glover said he felt ‘really frightened’ when the man threw petrol at them.
He said: “I’ve been doing this job for 16 years, but that night I thought, ‘This is it, we’re all going to go up in flames.’ Afterwards I was in shock. I came home to my family and I thought, ‘I might not have made it.’ I’ve never seen anything like that before.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t have persuaded the man to take another course of action, but he was set on doing what he did.”
At the ceremony held on June 16, the officers were honoured with the South Yorkshire Police Federation Bravery Award and a Chief Officer's Commendation.
South Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Steve Kent said: “Andy, Beth, Rich and Lynsey acted in this finest traditions of the police service – attempting to save the man’s life at no small risk to themselves.
“Despite the obvious dangers and the distressing nature of the incident, the four officers displayed bravery, professionalism and swift actions, which undoubtedly contributed to saving the lives of the people in the house and adjoining properties.
“Our colleagues never know what they will be confronted with when they answer the call – these four officers are heroes who are very deserving of a Bravery Award.”
Steve added: “Our thoughts remain with the family of the man who lost his life in the incident.”
PC Hindley and PC Kingston attended the ceremony while PC Hall and PC Glover were unable to attend.