Funeral For Firefighter

27 April 2010, 08:18 | Updated: 28 April 2010, 09:50

The funeral has taken place of a "hero'' firefighter who died while battling a blaze in a residential tower block in Southampton.

Alan Bannon, who was 38, died tackling the fire at Shirley Towers in Church Street on April 6. His colleague, 35 year old dad of two James Shears, from Poole also died at the same incident.

Hundreds of firefighters and members of the public lined the streets in a show of respect and grief, as the funeral cortege left St Mary's fire station where he worked, and travelled to St Mary's church.

Reports have said the firefighters were found unconscious by paramedics on the ninth floor of the block and one died at the scene and one in hospital. A joint fire service and police investigation is continuing to find out what caused the fire in flat 72 and how the experienced men, from Red Watch died.

It appears the blaze could have started when a curtain caught fire when it was left over a light bulb, according to local people.

Two other firefighters suffered burns to their hands fighting the fire, which was contained to the one flat. All the residents were evacuated and none of them were injured.

Margaret Bannon, the mother of Mr Bannon, said the family had lost a caring father, a loving son and a dear friend who always wanted to be a firefighter. Mr Bannon, from Southampton, was married to Charlotte and father to five-year-old

His mother said in the statement: "Alan was an incredible person and managed to cram a massive amount into a short life. We have lost a caring father, a loving son and a dear friend. Alan had always wanted to be a firefighter and when he joined the fire service he began living his life-long ambition, he never thought of himself as being a hero, he was just doing the job he loved. Abi was the apple of Alan's eye and they absolutely adored one another.

"He had just spent some quality time with her on Tuesday before going on duty. We are fortunate in that Alan spent his last day with his beloved daughter and friends in the fire service. We would like to thank everyone who was at the
scene for all their efforts and everything that they did.''

The funeral of Mr Shears will take place at St George's Church in Poole, Dorset, on Friday April 30. This will be followed by a private committal service which will be attended by family, friends, and close colleagues.

A memorial service is planned for both firefighters at Winchester Cathedral in July.