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‘Obvious’ dangers cause accidental fires

02 October 2018

DURING THIS year’s Fire Safety Week (1-7 October), Northern Ireland Fire Rescue Service (NIFRS) is reminding people to be vigilant to the causes of fire in the home following an 8.5% increase in the number of accidental house fires last year (896).

Over the past three years Firefighters attended 2,561 accidental house fires, 69% of which were caused by; cooking appliances (38%), electrical equipment (25%) and smoking related (6%).

Assistant chief fire & rescue officer, prevention & protection Alan Walmsley said, “Last year accidental fire deaths were at their lowest on record – 4 people tragically lost their lives in 2017/18, a 66% decrease from two years previous when 12 people died in accidental house fires.  Whilst we welcome this reduction in deaths, we are concerned to see an increase in the number of accidental house fires and this Fire Safety Week we are concentrating our efforts to remind people about the obvious dangers and the main causes of accidental house fires.

“Many people mistakenly think that an accidental house fire will never happen to them.  We speak to many people after we have attended fires in their homes and they are shocked at the ease and speed at which fire can spread. With cooking, electrical and smoking related as the top 3 causes we are asking people to follow our simple fire safety advice.”

Cooking appliances accounted for 38% of accidental house fires – don’t leave cooking unattended; turn off hobs and ovens when finished cooking and if using a chip pan never ever throw water onto an oil based fire.

Electrical equipment and supply accounted for 25% – don’t overload sockets, or leave electrical appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines running overnight or when you leave the house.

Smoking materials accounted for 6% of accidental house fires but are actually the top cause of accidental fire deaths. 60% of accidental fire deaths in the last 3 years were due to smoking materials. Don’t smoke in bed or when feeling drowsy or tired, stub cigarettes out fully in an ashtray.

ACFRO Alan Walmsley continues, “Through our ‘STOP Fire’ campaign we continue to remind everyone about the basic fire safety measures they should take to keep safe from fire.  Fit a Smoke alarm, Test them every week, look out for Obvious dangers and Plan your escape routes.  By routinely completing a number of simple fire safety steps, you can drastically reduce the risk of a fire in your home.

“Anyone concerned about their own fire safety or that of a family member or neighbour should get in touch with us using our Home Fire Safety Check Referral Form on our website – www.nifrs.org.

“The reality is that many accidental house fires could be prevented if people follow the fire safety advice we provide through our Community Information Bulletins on our website. House fires have a devastating impact on people and we will continue to do all that we can to help stop fire in the home.”