Quick-thinking Belfast man averts blazing truck explosion

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A brave door supervisor put a fire out in a burning truck on a busy road in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. He prevented an explosion and saved lives while also averting extensive damage to Ulster University’s Belfast campus.

David Thompson is an SIA licensed door supervisor and CCTV operator. He is being featured in our #SIAHeroes campaign. The campaign highlights the efforts security operatives are making to serve their communities across the UK during the COVID-19 crisis.

At 9.30 am on Wednesday, 26 August 2020, the CCTV operatives in Ulster University’s control room called David Thompson on the radio (he was on duty on the campus). The control room told David that a seven-ton refrigerated truck was on fire on the street adjacent to the Belfast campus on York Road.

David sent a message on the radio to his colleague, porter Matthew Ward, to pick up two fire extinguishers as he could see flames and black smoke billowing out of the back of the truck’s cabin. The fire brigade were called but meanwhile David and his colleague, Matthew Ward managed the fire.

Putting out the fire was particularly dangerous because the vehicle was sitting in traffic. The fire itself was near the fuel tank, and black smoke was also pouring out of the refrigerated unit at the top of the truck. By this time the driver, who was dazed but otherwise uninjured, had got out of the vehicle. David and Matthew applied the extinguishers to the flames and the smoke, but there was a section that was still smouldering.

When we spoke to David he said:

I picked up the burning item with my bare hands and threw it on the ground and used the extinguisher to stop the fire. I didn’t give it a thought about the risk that I was taking for my life. I knew if the truck had exploded that it could have killed people and shattered the large number of windows which had recently been installed at Ulster University’s Belfast campus.

The fire brigade arrived after David and Matthew had put the fire out. They moved the truck to allow the traffic to move.

There are over 400,000 licensed security operatives in the UK, and like David, many continue to work as critical workers and keyworkers, guarding hospitals, sheltered accommodation, supporting social distancing in supermarkets, and other essential operations.

Michelle Russell, our Acting Chief Executive, said:

The #SIAHeroes campaign shines a light on their significant individual contributions and how they are making a difference to the communities that they serve. David is a great example of this as everyday security officers save lives, keep people safe and make personal sacrifices for the good of society: thank you.

As the regulator of the private security industry our role is to encourage best practice and our #SIAHeroes campaign highlights the trust and dependency that the public do and need to have in security officers.

We are promoting the industry’s dedication and commitment through our #SIAHeroes campaign. It is sharing inspiring stories of security operatives who are keeping the public safe and secure at this critical time.

Read all of our #SIAHeroes stories online here.

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