Join Scotland’s fight against fire

Posted on 08/01/2014 by

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fire

Members of the public have been urged to help firefighters reach vulnerable residents so they can prevent house fires and the deaths, injuries and emotional trauma they cause.

Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Lewis Ramsay, the SFRS Director of Prevention and Protection, explained: “Fire in the home can be both terrifying and tragic, but simple steps will significantly reduce the risk of it happening to us.

“I am calling on everyone to consider the risks in their homes and the homes of people around them, and then to take potentially life-saving action.

“Firefighters have the terrible experience of attending serious fires, where people have been killed or injured, that need never have happened.

“My message to everyone is don’t let that happen to you or the people around you. Everyone can save lives and protect themselves and their families, friends and neighbours from fire.”

The latest stage of the Join Scotland’s Fight Against Fire campaign emphasises the need for all homes to be protected by working smoke alarms, which are known to have a dramatic impact in preventing injuries and deaths.

People should also consider fitting a heat alarm within kitchens – the room where most house fires start – as the devices are specifically designed to give early warning of fire.

ACO Ramsay continued: “The evidence is clear – working smoke alarms have saved lives and are absolutely essential items for every household.

“It is widely acknowledged that working smoke detectors raise the alarm very quickly, meaning there is less chance of fire causing serious injury to people and damage to property.

“More homes than ever are now protected by these life-saving devices and that has led to a noticeable reduction in the severity of the house fires we are called to tackle.

“Incidents where fire spread beyond the item that first ignited to engulf the whole room have fallen by 10 per cent, while cases where the fire spread to damage other parts of the house have fallen by 16 per cent.

“By quickly alerting people to the presence of fire, working smoke alarms give residents the time they need to get out and call us out.

“That not only prevents serious injury or worse, it also means firefighters can bring a fire under control before flames, toxic smoke and heat cause severe damage to a home and rob householders of cherished possessions.”

In an advert airing on television and radio over the coming days, a serving firefighter will share her memory of attending a house fire where a woman was killed.

Watch Manager Andrea Sutherland recalls how she and her crew found a woman in the living room, which was full with lethal levels of toxic smoke – even though the fire had burned itself out without spreading from the kitchen.

In a direct plea for the public to recognise the risks and make sure their smoke alarms work, Watch Manager Sutherland explains: “The lady had simply put something to cook in the oven.

“Like many people’s cookers, her oven door had a handle where she hung oven gloves and a tea towel.

“As she slept the heat from the oven must have built up until it set the tea towel on fire.

“A neighbour spotted the smoke and called us. There were two smoke alarms fitted in the house but she had removed the batteries.

“People often do this because they don’t like the alarm going off when they are cooking – but if this lady had kept her batteries in, she would probably still be alive today.”

In its Join Scotland’s Fight Against Fire campaign, SFRS is determined to help the public understand how easily fire can start within the home, as well as the simple precautions that save lives and property when fire does start.

As a routine part of their duties firefighters throughout the country deliver expert advice to help residents keep their homes safe, and SFRS wants the public to help it reach those most at risk.

ACO Ramsay added: “In the past year our crews conducted more than 56,000 free home fire safety visits, where they gave residents tips to prevent fire starting and to buy vital time if it does strike.

“Firefighters conducting free home fire safety visits will even install long life battery smoke alarms wherever they are needed – and it’s completely free of charge.

“It is a hugely popular and beneficial programme that gives vulnerable members of our community friendly support and some very welcome reassurance.

“We need help from members of the public to reach those most at risk. If you keep an eye on a vulnerable relative, friend or neighbour then put them in contact with us – it could save their life.”

Anyone can arrange a free home fire safety visit by calling the SFRS Freephone number 0800 0731 999 or by contacting their local fire station.

Further information on how to keep your home fire safe is available on the SFRS website: http://www.firescotland.gov.uk.

SFRS

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