SFRS marks First World War anniversary

Posted on 04/08/2014 by

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As people commemorate a century since Britain entered the war some basic precautions will ensure candles mark those lost without causing further tragedy.

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On the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War senior Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) officers have paid their respects to those who lost their lives in the course of the devastating conflict.

The United Kingdom entered the war on Tuesday 4 August 1914 following Germany’s invasion of Belgium. Around 17 million people were killed during one of the most destructive wars ever fought.

SFRS Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said: “The devastation of the First World War touched every community and it’s right that we pause to mark a century since the beginning of this terrible episode in history.

“Many firefighters were military reservists and so they were called up by the army or the navy, and over the course of the war many others either volunteered or were conscripted into military service.

“Of course, as with their colleagues from all other walks of life, many of these men would never return home to their families.

“The commemorative events taking place around the world today are very significant to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and our thoughts must go to the awful impact the First World War had on everyone involved.”

As a mark of remembrance the Royal British Legion is encouraging people to turn off their lights for an hour tonight, leaving a single light or candle on for a shared moment of reflection.

Lights Out is a national initiative running from 10pm to 11pm – exactly a century since the UK’s ultimatum for Germany to leave Belgium expired.

Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey famously remarked: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

As the First World War progressed the government took steps to ensure communities at home still had the fire cover they needed, with firefighters added to the list of reserved occupations not liable to conscription.

With people throughout the country preparing to commemorate the anniversary by taking part in the Lights Out remembrance campaign, SFRS is reminding everyone to take extra care with their candles.

Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Lewis Ramsay, director of prevention and protection and chair of the SFRS Heritage Committee, said: “Many of us will be marking the 100th anniversary of World War One tonight by taking part in the Lights Out event.

“Firefighters served throughout the war and the sad fact is many who did were among those killed or seriously injured as a result.

“Our aim as the fire and rescue service isn’t to discourage anyone from taking part in this national moment of reflection, but we do want to remind people to take some simple precautions if they are planning to light a candle.”

ACO Ramsay continued: “Candles do pose a significant fire risk so it’s vital we all use them correctly and safely.

“It’s important to think about where they are placed. They should always be away from curtains and out of the reach of pets and children.

“Most importantly, remember to extinguish your candles if you leave the room – it only takes a moment for a fire to start.

“We urge every household to have working smoke alarms and test them every week. We also provide free home fire safety visits and fit smoke alarms where required.”

More information on candle fire safety is available on the SFRS website http://www.firescotland.gov.uk

People can join Scotland’s fight against fire and request a free home fire safety visit by calling the SFRS freephone number 0800 0731 999, texting ‘check’ to 61611 or by contacting their local fire station.

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