TRIBUTES have been paid to a police officer, born and bred in the Staffordshire Moorlands, who died in a house fire.
Friends, family, officers and staff from Staffordshire Police are mourning the death of PC David Beech following a house fire at his home in Tunstall over the weekend.
PC Beech, a 30-year-old local response officer based at Newcastle-Under-Lyme, was discovered in his home alongside his two dogs in Wyreley Way following a domestic house fire at 11.30am on Sunday, March 16.
As a former pupil at Westwood High School, now Westwood College, in Leek, PC Beech had served with the police force since November 2008.
Prior to that he served as a Special Constable.
His death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for HM Coroner.
Staffordshire Police’s Chief Constable, Mike Cunningham, said: “His family were immensely proud of Dave and his exceptional service in our police family, and we all share this great loss of a valued friend and colleague.
“He had been awarded a number of commendations during his time with the force and we know he was extremely proud to be a police officer. He will be a great loss to us all.
“Our condolences and my thoughts are with Dave’s family, who are understandably devastated by this tragedy.
“This is a man who was a fantastic police officer and someone who had been commended for his courage and professionalism in dealing with some very difficult situations.
“He had been commended on three occasions. He had public service coursing through his veins and will be greatly missed.”
PC Beech, who lived alone, grew up in Leek. He also helped out at Staffordshire Police’s Blue Glove Boxing Academy, which supports Stoke-based charity Caudwell Children.
Mr Cunningham added: “He was a local man from Leek and was truly committed to Staffordshire.
“He had wanted to be a police officer for this area since he was young.
“He committed himself and was admired by his colleagues and supervisors from Newcastle.
“A lot of people are feeling a little bit numb at the moment.
"We are working with the fire service to establish how this tragic incident happened.”
Chief Inspector Clare Riley, Commander at Newcastle-Under-Lyme Local Policing Team (LPT) added: “Dave was a well respected police officer who loved his job and serving the community.
“He was also one of the most genuine people that you would care to know and his friends and colleagues will miss him dearly.”
Friends, colleagues and neighbours have laid flowers outside PC Beech’s home as a mark of respect.
An investigation by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has now established that the fire started after cooking was accidentally left unattended on the hob.
Firefighters attended the incident on Wyreley Way on Sunday morning after being alerted by neighbours.
A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Neighbours of the man alerted fire control after noticing the external extractor fan to the property had melted.
“One crew from Sandyford and one from Hanley attended the property.
“They forced entry to the house and discovered the man along with two dogs which had also died.
“The fire was out when crews arrived. It had not spread further than the kitchen but there was significant smoke damage throughout the property.”
Donna Broadhead, Prevent Manager for the north of the county, added: “This is a very tragic situation and, unfortunately, this type of incident is not uncommon for us with kitchen fires still making up the largest percentage of all accidental house blazes that we attend.
“I cannot stress strongly enough how vital it is to stay in the kitchen while you are cooking.
“The majority of kitchen fires start when food is left unattended and it either overheats or fat residue on appliances left behind from previous use ignites.”
Friends of PC Beech have also been paying tribute to him on Facebook.
Messages posted online include: “Tragic news about Dave and a reminder to have as much fun as possible whilst you have the chance.”
“Can’t believe it, RIP Dave.”
“Thinking of PC Dave Beech and all my friends and his colleagues in the force who lost a friend.”
“Such a shame. RIP Dave.”