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Stub out fires with Cancer Research

28 January 2019

YORKSHIRE CANCER Research has teamed up with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) to help people across the region quit smoking.

Firefighters carrying out home visits will receive video training and information leaflets provided by Yorkshire Cancer Research, including guidance on how to advise smokers on using e-cigarettes as a tool to quit successfully.

Smoking rates in West Yorkshire are significantly higher than the national average, with more than 300,000 smokers living in the region.

Dropped cigarettes and other smoking materials caused more than half of West Yorkshire’s fatal house fires in the last five years. Smoking is also responsible for thousands of cases of cancer, including 7 in 10 lung cancers.

Cancer Insight Manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research Leah Holtam said, “Smoking can be dangerous in more ways than one. Yorkshire Cancer Research and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have very different reasons for urging people to quit but, by working together, we can help people significantly improve their health and keep them safe in their homes.”

‘Safe and Well’ visits are paid to vulnerable members of the community most at risk of fire.

As well as helping homeowners identify fire hazards and develop safe bedtime routines and escape plans, firefighters also give basic advice on topics like crime prevention, falls prevention, cold homes, social isolation and giving up smoking.

WYFRS has worked with a number of local organisations to pull together training and information resources to support this activity.

The training provided by Yorkshire Cancer Research will help firefighters start conversations with smokers about their options for quitting and tell them about their local stop smoking services. The charity’s resources will specifically help firefighters understand the relative safety of vaping when compared to traditional cigarettes, and guide them in spotting any signs of lung cancer.

Leah said, “Vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. An added benefit is that the risk of fire is much lower as long as people use the correct charger, replace the charger if there are any signs of damage and ensure e-cigarettes are not left unattended when charging.

“E-cigarettes have become the most popular stop smoking aid. By using them in combination with free advice and support from local stop smoking services, people are four times more likely to stop smoking forever.”

Michelle Rhodes, who works in fire prevention for WYFRS, said, “Since April 2017, we have been developing and delivering training for firefighters and prevention staff on falls and mobility, cold homes, smoking cessation, social isolation and crime prevention.

“WYFRS Safer Community Strategy is all about supporting individuals to be safer within their own homes and working with partners to improve our knowledge in a variety of areas to ensure we enhance not just fire safety but also the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable people within the communities of West Yorkshire.

“We are working with a number of partners across West Yorkshire and beyond in order to ensure we develop training materials that are appropriate to support this agenda and provide our teams with the skills and basic knowledge of the elements to living well. Through this WYFRS will be able to identify ‘at risk’ residents and offer early intervention to help prevent a crisis point further down the line.

“Working with Yorkshire Cancer Research, WYFRS is able to support the key messages about quitting, healthy lifestyles and self-care to help prevent people going into crisis.”