Jim Shears

Jim Shears

James “Jim” Shears lost his life in the line of duty on the 6th April 2010, alongside his colleague Alan Bannon. Their Red Plaque was unveiled on the 8th September 2023.

Jim Shears, 35, and Alan Bannon, 38, served with Red Watch at St Mary’s fire station when they were called to a fire at the 15-storey block on the 9th floor of Shirley Towers in Southampton on 6 April 2010. The pair were part of the second team of breathing apparatus wearers to be committed into the flat. As the blaze took hold, temperatures inside the ninth-floor flat reached extreme temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius. Both died during this sudden escalation of the fire and two other firefighters suffered burns.

The 2012 inquest into the incident established the need for improved safety measures to protect firefighters and prevent a similar future tragedy.

The unveiling ceremony at St Mary’s fire station was attended by family, friends and colleagues of the fallen firefighters, alongside senior FBU officials. The plaque was unveiled by Alan Bannon’s daughter, Abigail, before a minute’s silence was held.

It was followed by wreath laying, a final blessing, and a recital by an FBU piper.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary said:

“We will never forget the Shirley Towers fire on 6th April 2010, and the loss of firefighters Alan Bannon and James Shears, who died in the line of duty that night. Today’s memorial ceremony has been a testament to how their lives, and this tragic incident, have so deeply touched the lives of so many others.”

Mark Chapman, regional secretary for Region 12 of the Fire Brigades Union, said:

“We are proud to honour their bravery and sacrifice with a plaque dedicated to their memory. We will never forget the duty we owe them to fight for high-rise tower safety.”

Below are memories added by those who knew Jim Shears or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for Jim Shears that you wish to add, please include your memory below.

Please help support our Firefighters with the Firefighters 100 Lottery, a weekly online lottery created to support firefighters, their bereaved families and to honour the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters killed in the line of duty. With your help we can have schemes such as the Red Plaque Project for memorials to those lives lost.

Learn about the history of the Red Plaque Project and discover other Firefighters that have also received Red Plaques.


Photo credits: Mark Thomas

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