Fleur Lombard receiving the Silver Axe Award
Watford, Herts UK
|Died||4 February 1996 (aged 21–22)|
Staple Hill, Bristol, UK
|Known for||First female firefighter to die on duty in peacetime Britain|
Fleur Lombard was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, UK. The plaque at the site her ashes are interred records her parents as Roger and Jane Lombard and that she had a sister Rebecca. Her grandfather was Adrian Lombard, who received a posthumous CBE for his services to export as Director of Engineering at Rolls Royce, lead the team who developed the RB211 jet engine. She died at the scene of the fire that destroyed a supermarket in Staple Hill, Bristol, UK. The fire was started deliberately by a security guard working in the supermarket, who was sentenced to 7 years.
Staple Hill supermarket fire
Fleur Lombard was one of only eight women among Avon's 700 firefighters. On graduating in 1994, Lombard received the Silver Axe Award, for most outstanding recruit on her training school. On 4 February 1996, when she was 21 years old, she was fighting a supermarket fire in Staple Hill, near Bristol, when she and her partner, Robert Seaman, were caught in a flashover. She was killed as a direct result of the intense heat and her body was found just a few yards from the exit. Lombard was the first female firefighter to die in peacetime service in Britain.
Posthumously, she was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal. Robert Seaman was awarded the George Medal for bravery for returning to the burning building when he realised his partner had not followed him out. Another firefighter, Pat Foley, who also went into the blazing supermarket to help, was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery.
The fire was deliberately started by security guard Martin Cody, then aged 21, on his first day at work at the supermarket. Cody was said to live in a fantasy world and started the fire to relieve his boredom. He phoned a colleague to say the fire was "a good one", and was seen punching the air with glee before firefighters arrived on the scene. Cody was later jailed for seven-and-a-half years for manslaughter and arson. The sentencing judge of the Royal Courts of Justice stated that he had escaped a life sentence for the manslaughter only because psychiatrists were unable to say he posed a continuing serious risk to the public. Lombard's parents criticised the jail sentence, saying psychiatric treatment would have been more appropriate.
Lombard's funeral service was held on 14 February 1996, at Derby Cathedral. She was cremated and her ashes were later interred in the churchyard of St Enodoc's Church, Trebetherick, Cornwall. A trust fund and bursary were set up in her memory.
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