Harrow Court: Firefighters went up to blaze without permission

THE inquest into the deaths of two Stevenage fire fighters, Jeff Wornham, 28, and Michael Miller, 26, and mother of two Natalie Close, at Harrow Court, Stevenage, in February last year, today heard how the two men and their woman commander had gone into a

THE inquest into the deaths of two Stevenage fire fighters, Jeff Wornham, 28, and Michael Miller, 26, and mother of two Natalie Close, at Harrow Court, Stevenage, in February last year, today heard how the two men and their woman commander had gone into a lift and up to the blaze without permission.

On Wednesday crucial evidence had been given by temporary leading firefighter Helen Antrobus who was in command of the first engine to arrive at the tower block and led Mr Wornham and Mr Miller to the inferno on the 14th floor.

But when the inquest was in its fifth day the original incident commander, leading firefighter Daren Scotchford, told the inquest he shouted at Ms Antrobus not to enter the lift to ascend to the fire with her two colleagues who later perished.

"We were in the lobby and I shouted to Helen not to go up. She said nothing as she, Jeff and Mike entered the lift," said Mr Scotchford.


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"She did not hear me and it is often difficult to hear in our helmets."

Mr Scotchford then went up to the 13th floor with bolt cutters to free the dry risers where he found Ms Antrobus.

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Mr Martin Seaward QC, for the families and the Fire Brigade Union, asked Mr Scotchford under questioning whether Ms Antrobus was acting on her own initiative.

"Yes," said Mr Scotchford.

"She had taken a breathing apparatus crew upstairs without your instructions," added Mr Seaward.

"Yes," said Mr Scotchford.

"You failed to take control of the situation when three colleagues went up contrary to your instructions," said Mr Seaward.

Mr Scotchford replied: "I believe if they had heard me they would have carried out my instructions."

Asked if not carrying out his order annoyed him, Mr Scotchford replied: "Yes it did."

The inquest is expected to last at least another week.

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