Fire investigation ‘like Time Team’ says chief

David Stokes, centre, station commander at Hemel Hempstead Fire Station, receives the Herts Constabulary Award. Left, Guest of Honour David Cansdale and right, Assistant Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.
David Stokes, centre, station commander at Hemel Hempstead Fire Station, receives the Herts Constabulary Award. Left, Guest of Honour David Cansdale and right, Assistant Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

THE station commander at Hemel Hempstead fire station has been commended by the police for his work investigating suspicious blazes.

David Stokes, pictured right, was handed the Herts Constabulary Award during a ceremony at police HQ in Welwyn Garden City to recognise the closer working between the two emergency services.

The 55-year-old, who is the lead fire investigation officer for the county, said: “I didn’t expect it, I didn’t know it was coming. As far as I look at it, I’m just doing my job but it’s nice for someone to say: ‘Dave, you’ve done great’.”

The many cases he has investigated include that of Kathleen Smith, jailed for nine years in May for setting fire to her ex lover’s narrow boat, and the blaze at Batchwood Golf and Tennis Centre in St Albans in August.

“Fire investigation is not unlike archaeology, it’s a bit like Time Team,” David said, explaining how they use paint brushes and sieves to sift for clues in charred debris.

Det Sgt Kevin Brown, 38, and Det Con Donna Norris, 36, both from Hemel Hempstead, were awarded Chief Constable’s Commendations at the ceremony.