4 October 2021
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has revealed that 39% of accidental house fires in the last year occurred in homes where people lived alone.
Tragically, 8 people died in 2020/21 as a result of a fire in the home, compared to 3 the previous year. To date this year, there have already been 4 deaths as a result of a house fire, and this is before the high risk winter period.
These stark statistics have been released as part of North South Fire Safety Week 2021, which begins today. Organised in partnership with the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in the Republic of Ireland, Fire Safety Week promotes fire safety in the home, to help prevent fires from happening.
There are a variety of factors that increase the risk of accidental house fires, and these are especially relevant to people who live alone. Some of the most common causes of accidental fires in the home include cooking and electronics, while smoking and being under the influence of drugs and alcohol also increases the risk of an accidental house fire.
People who do not have a working smoke alarm in their home and those with limited mobility are also more at risk, as these factors can impact on their ability to notice a fire, escape quickly and raise the alarm.
Paddy Gallagher, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, explains:
“Last year 39% of accidental house fires occurred in homes where the person lived alone. We know that many people are feeling more isolated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and so this Fire Safety Week I would encourage everyone to safely reconnect with neighbours, family members and friends who are more at risk from fire, especially those who live alone.
“Make sure they have a smoke alarm that they test weekly; that they are aware of the obvious fire dangers in their home; and that they have a fire escape plan if a fire should occur. Please also encourage them to seek advice from us by arranging a free Home Fire Safety Check via our website. By looking out for each other, it helps us all to be Safer Together.”
Health Minister, Robin Swann, said:
“Fire Safety Week is an ideal opportunity to talk to friends, neighbours and family about the dangers of fire in the home, particularly those who live alone. Encourage those you care about to test their smoke alarms and use the free Home Fire Safety Checks available from Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. The pandemic has highlighted isolation for many people in our society who live alone and still feel very isolated, so make the time and let’s keep everyone safe.”