On the evening of 17th December 1979 a fire broke out in the Market Hall of St. John's Precinct, Liverpool. Within minutes of the fire being reported, one whole level of the Market complex was completely ablaze, trapping a security man and caretaker on a smoke filled higher level.
The first police officers on the scene attempted to rescue the two trapped men, but were beaten back by the heat and smoke. After a few minutes all contact with the trapped men was lost, and Constables Sinclair and Fawcett immediately entered the blazing complex from Elliot Street. The smoke and heat was intense and it was impossible to walk into the building, so both officers crawled along the floor to search for the trapped men. Visibility was less than three feet, but after a few minutes search the security man and caretaker were found near to the entrance of the Market Hall.
After reassuring both men the officers began to escort them from the premises but after only a few feet both men became so weak that they were unable to move. Constable Sinclair grabbed hold of the security man and his colleague the caretaker, and they started to drag them across the floor.
As the conditions became worse, the strength of both officers began to fail but they managed to hold out until they reached safety.
Both officers had crawled a distance of over 370 feet to reach the trapped men in what was described as absolutely atrocious conditions. The caretaker said of his rescuer, " the bobby that got me out was tremendous. I reckon this saved my life because I don't think I would have got out". The security man also praised Constable Sinclair, saying "He acted above and beyond the call of duty. He was choking, absolutely exhausted. I can't thank him enough".
Both officers were also awarded the Force Merit Badge by the Police Authority.
See St. John's Precinct fire