Two policemen who kicked in the door of a burning apartment to check for occupants have recognised for their commitment to duty.
Senior constables Craig Sands and Christopher Smithers were among a number of officers honoured at a Wollongong Police District awards ceremony on Wednesday.
The duo, along with Sergeant Helen Frame and Senior Constable Matthew Griffiths, responded to a unit fire on Wollongong’s Crown Street in 2016.
“We just happened to be in the area and noticed smoke coming from level three of the unit complex,” Sen Con Sands said.
The officer ran into the building with Sen Con Smithers, checked for heat on a unit door and then kicked it in.
“We didn’t know if there was an occupant inside, and basically then went through the process of trying to evacuate other people in the unit complex,” he said.
An explosion filled the third level with smoke, forcing the officers to retreat. The three senior constables were taken to Wollongong Hospital with smoke inhalation.
All four officers received a Southern Region Commander’s commendation.
Senior Constable Sands said while it was “nice to get acknowledgement”, officers went about their work day-in, day-out “without accolades”.
“Every now and then you get a thank you from the public. You may only get half a dozen in your career but that goes a long way,” he said.
Sergeant Frame said she was honoured to receive a commendation, which was presented by Southern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Barrie.
“They don’t happen very often in the NSW Police, but I think we do a lot more than what we actually get recognised for, as far as putting our lives on the line,” she said.
A number of officers were recognised for their length of service – including Leading Senior Constable Shannon Arnold, who received a National Police Service Medal, a National Medal and a NSW Police Medal (15-year clasp).
Senior Constable Arnold has spent her whole career in general duties.
“I’ve definitely done a lot and seen a lot, so it is nice to be recognised for that work,” she said.
Wednesday’s ceremony was a family affair for the Arnolds.
Sen Con Arnold’s husband, Stewart, received a commendation for his work on the arrest of Malcolm Naden, Australia’s most-wanted man, in 2012 and her 10-year-old daughter, Tyler, sang the national anthem.