Five police officers who detained a man with a knife and then rescued another from a burning flat have been given bravery awards.

A man was being held hostage at a flat in Harpenden on Monday, December 21.

Officers saw a broken window and a man armed with a knife. They were told to wait for armed police units.

But PC James Thayre, PC Michael Clifton, PC Philip Burns and Sergeant Samantha Puddy, all based at St Albans Police Station, saw smoke and decided to break into the flat and rescue a man trapped in the bathroom.

PC Clifton forced open the door and he was joined by Constable Quarman, based at Luton Airport, and his police dog Tai.

PC Thayre and Burns tried to talk to the suspect before the smoke from the fire forced them to back down the stairs.

Police spokeswoman Sarah Spence-Miller said: “Despite the fact that the officers were now struggling to breathe or see properly due to the smoke, they remained on the stairs. The suspect then emerged and was led downstairs.”

Sergeant Samantha Puddy arrived and started calling out to the trapped man. He replied, saying he was trapped in the bathroom and PC Puddy, Burns and Clifton crawled on their hands and knees to rescue him.

PC Thayra kept hold of the officers in case they collapsed because of the smoke.

Hertfordshire Constabulary awarded the five police officers Royal Humane Society Awards.