Funeral Dates Announced for Firefighters

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has had confirmation from the families of the funeral arrangements for firefighters Alan Bannon and James Shears, following the recent tragedy at Shirley Towers.

Alan Bannon’s funeral will take place at St. Mary's Church in St. Mary's Street, Southampton, on Tuesday 27 April at 2pm, followed by a private committal service. 

The funeral of Firefighter James Shears will take place at St. George’s Church in Darby’s Lane, Oakdale in Poole, Dorset, on Friday 30 April at 11am.  This will be followed by a private committal service, which will be attended by the family, friends, and close colleagues.

At the request of the families, both will be family funerals supported by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Further announcements will be made as plans progress.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is currently making arrangements, in conjunction with the families, for a memorial service for both firefighters, which the wider community will be able to attend to pay their respects. This is likely to take place in July. Further details will follow in due course.

Meanwhile, inquests into their deaths were opened and adjourned today (April 16th).

The hearing in Southampton was told Alan Bannon, 38, and James Shears, 35, died fighting the fire at the 1960s Shirley Towers, which broke out on April 6 and soon became out of control. Detective Chief Inspector Chris Fitchet told coroner Keith Wiseman the men arrived at the 15-storey block at 8.17pm and with two other colleagues donned breathing apparatus to tackle the fire. However, all four men got into difficulties. Mr Fitchet said Mr Shears was taken to Southampton General Hospital and died there two hours later despite attempts to revive him.

Mr Bannon was pronounced dead at the scene at 10.10pm despite attempts to resuscitate him. Post-mortem examinations found the men died from "exposure to excessive heat'' and the cause of death was given as hyperthermia. A joint fire service and police investigation is continuing to find out how the fire in flat 72 killed the experienced men, from Red Watch based at St Mary's Fire Station in Southampton. The blaze started when a curtain caught fire as it was left over a light bulb.

Mr Bannon, from Southampton, was married and had a daughter. Mr Shears, known as Jim, from Poole in Dorset, was also married and had two children. Both families of the men paid tribute, calling them "incredible'' and "our hero''.

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 was injured. Mr Wiseman gave his condolences to the families of the men, who were not present at the hearing, and adjourned the inquest until a date to be fixed.