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South Yorkshire fire deaths remain a concern to firefighters

25 July 2017

SOUTH YORKSHIRE Fire and Rescue (SYFR) is calling on public bodies and health partners to do more to help prevent needless deaths, after revealing more than 50 people have died in house fires in South Yorkshire since 2011.

SYFR says that although it now attends fewer house fires than at any time in its history, the number of people dying in serious blazes has not reduced year-on-year. It says this is because many of the people who die are not always known to the fire service, which prevents firefighters and safety officers putting things in place to stop fires.

Since 2011, 53 people have died in house fires in South Yorkshire. Nearly three quarters (71%) of those deaths occurred in house fires which started accidentally. Many of those who died (61%) were older people aged 50 or over, with fire service investigations finding that issues such as hoarding, drugs, alcohol and mental health problems frequently contributing to the fires starting. Half of those who died lived on their own.

Fire chiefs have launched the ‘Fire Safe Together’ campaign to help tackle the problem, calling on GPs, social care teams, drug and alcohol services and other partners to work with them to identify those most at risk. Common measures to protect those most at risk include fitting smoke alarms, providing flame retardant bedding and installing misting systems to suppress fires.

SYFR head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: “There are some common factors involved in almost all of our recent fire deaths, such as hoarding, loneliness, substance misuse and mental health issues. Often, those who died were already known to at least one agency, whether it’s a landlord, doctor’s surgery, council or social care team. Sadly, in most cases, they were not known to us.

“If we had known about them, we could have done something to help. We could have prevented another needless death. We might have kept someone’s loved one alive.”