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Brigade aims to make vulnerable people safer this Carers Week

12 June 2018

LONDON FIRE Brigade has outlined its commitment to making people with disabilities and long-term health conditions safe from fire.

The Brigade is highlighting the fire risks associated with health equipment and products used by some of the capital’s most vulnerable individuals. They have also produced a short checklist to help carers to identify if the people they support would benefit from a free home fire safety visit by the Brigade.

This week, during Carers Week, the Brigade is writing to 25 carer support charities, nearly 1,500 care homes and all 33 councils across London to share new safety leaflets, which highlight the fire risks associated with such home care equipment and products and how to prevent fires.

The Brigade’s concern centres on the fact that some health care equipment and products used in the home allow people to remain in familiar surroundings but used, or stored incorrectly, can increase the speed and intensity of a fire.

The sort of specialist care equipment the Brigade is concerned about includes:

  • Dynamic airflow pressure-relieving mattresses / overlays – any puncture by a heat source, such as a cigarette or match, can cause the escaping air to spread the fire quickly
  • Incontinence products –often stored in large quantities and can add fuel to a developing fire
  •  Home oxygen therapy – any naked flame near oxygen is dangerous
  •  Emollient creams – often contain flammable ingredients and a build-up on bedding and night clothes can increase flammability when in contact with a heat source

Vulnerable groups are more at risk from fire, so the Brigade offers free home fire safety visits, and those with long-term conditions and disabilities are a priority group for visits.

The Brigade’s head of community safety, Chris O’Connor, said: “It is a sad fact that people with disabilities and long-term conditions are more likely to die in fires. Not only are people often less able to escape if a fire does break out, but they may also have equipment or products in their home which can increase the speed and intensity of a fire. That’s why we’re doing as much as possible to highlight how people can stay safe in their homes.

“By writing to carer support charities, care homes and local authorities, we’ll be alerting them to these risks and reminding them we offer free home fire safety visits. During a visit, firefighters will offer fire safety advice and fit free smoke alarms where needed.
“We’re also calling on carers to look out for signs that vulnerable people might be at risk from fires. The most important group are those who smoke, who are at an even greater risk.”

A simple person-centred risk assessment check-list has been developed to help carers quickly assess whether the person they care for would benefit from a home fire safety visit.