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8 April 2010, 14:51
The Fire Brigades Union are carrying out its own investigation into the deaths of two firefighters - one from Poole - killed in a tower block blaze.
35-year-old James Shears from Oakdale in Poole and Alan Bannon, 38, died as they tried to contain the fire in Shirley Towers, Church Street, Southampton on Tuesday night. A post mortem shows they both died from exposure to excessive heat.
Police investigations were launched yesterday as fire chiefs said they could not yet confirm if "something went wrong'' during the fire.
James also known as Jim was based on Red Watch at St Mary’s Fire Station, Southampton. The 35 years old was married to Carla and father to two sons aged four and five.
He lived in the Poole area of Dorset near his parents, Marilyn and Ed and brothers, Gary, Steven and Chas. He joined Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2003.
Today James's Family have released a statement:
His wife Carla Shears says: “Jim was the most wonderful dad and husband. He had always wanted to be a firefighter and was truly our hero.”
His Dad Ed Shears says:
“Jim had represented Great Britain in Judo and had been a World Firefighter Games champion on two separate occasions. He shared his skills training both youngsters and adults in this martial art. He also encouraged his brother Gary to become a Judo coach and will be a tough act to follow.“He was the perfect son and son-in-law and we are all going to miss him terribly.”
General secretary of the FBU, Matt Wrack said: "We want to find out what happened urgently, so that we can take steps to ensure that it never happens again.
"I have already spoken to the police to assure them of our support and co-operation.''
Hampshire chief fire officer John Bonney said officers were "valiant'' in "extremely difficult circumstances'' but refused to give precise details of how they died.
James left a widow Carla and two young boys and Alan, from Southampton, was married to Charlotte and the couple had a young daughter.
The grieving loved ones of both men visited the scene of their deaths yesterday as they tried to cope with the loss.
Witnesses described how a ceiling and staircase fell through as the blaze spread last night in the 1960s building.
Dozens of people were evacuated and were still waiting to return to their homes, with some set to be put up in hotels.
Mr Bonney, who visited the firefighters' families yesterday afternoon, said colleagues were "devastated'' on a "tragic day'' for his brigade.