HAMPSHIRE’S chief fire officer this morning told how the deaths of two firemen had a devastating impact that they will never forget.

John Bonney was speaking on the steps of Southampton Civic Centre just before an inquest into the deaths of colleagues Alan Bannon and James Shears got underway this morning.

He described how on the night of the April 16, 2010, some 20 appliances were called to the blaze at flat 72, on the ninth floor of Shirley Towers, where they rescued a number of residents.

He went on to say how during the past two years the service had worked closely with Hampshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive, who both carried out investigations into the deaths of the Red Watch firemen from St Mary’s Fire Station.

Both organisations have since revealed they will not binging civil or criminal prosecutions against Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Mr Bonney said the deaths of the two men, Alan, 38, from Southampton and Jim, 35, from Poole, “reminds us of the risks we face day in day out” when tackling fires in the county.

He added: “I feel the best tribute to Jim and Alan is to provide the very best level of service we can to the people of Hampshire.

“We will continue to learn from this tragic incident. If the proceedings rule we need to make further changes then we will do so.”