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Brave prison officers rescue inmates from fire

Last published on 30 Sep 2020 in Media Releases

Staff at a Sydney prison have been honoured with bravery awards after rescuing two inmates from a fire that blazed through their cell.

Three prison officers from Mary Wade Correctional Centre at Lidcombe received the Commissioner’s Commendation for Brave Conduct today, for their actions during the incident on 12 June.

Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the actions of Immediate Action Team officers Andrew Boan, Geoffrey Ronayne and Fraser Leavasa were heroic.

“The actions of Andrew, Geoffrey and Fraser were nothing short of heroic and I had no hesitation in recommending them for bravery awards to honour their outstanding work,” Mr Severin said.

“The officers maintained composure in the face of fire and the risk of serious injury, while also demonstrating courage and compassion in saving the lives of the two women in the cell.

“I’m very proud of the officers’ response to this incident at Mary Wade. They are true ambassadors for Corrective Services NSW.”

In the days after the fire, the officers were asked by inmates to attend one of the wings where they were given a standing ovation and handmade greeting cards of praise and gratitude. It is rare for inmates to give thank-you cards to officers.

The incident occurred about 12.30pm on Friday 12 June when officers responded to the cell fire in the prison’s Banksia Wing and safely retrieved two female inmates.

Officers evacuated all other inmates from the wing and extinguished the fire.

Two corrections officers were taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation and seven others as a precaution.

The two female inmates, both aged 36, were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns. One inmate, aged 40, was also treated for smoke inhalation.

It is alleged the blaze was started by one of the inmates who used a spark from an electricity outlet to set fire to a mattress. The police investigation continues.

Officers from Silverwater Womens and Dawn De Loas correctional centres attended Mary Wade after the incident to assist. Officers from NSW Police Force, Fire Rescue NSW and NSW Ambulance also responded to the incident.

Immediate Action Teams are specially trained correctional officers who are the first responders to critical incidents in the correctional environment.

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