Dean McWhirter Firefighter Control Regional Control Centre, NIFRS HQ, Lisburn Read this articleRead all 10 articles
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has revealed that in 2017/18, 4 people lost their lives in accidental house fires in Northern Ireland. This represents a record low and a 56% reduction from 9 fatalities the previous year.
Whilst cautiously welcoming the reduction in deaths, NIFRS warns that there is no room for complacency. During the same period the number of accidental house fires in Northern Ireland increased by 8.5% from 826 in 2016/17 to 896.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Prevention & Protection explains:
“Although the reduction in accidental fire deaths is undoubtedly welcomed it’s a real tragedy that 4 people still lost their lives. I firmly believe these deaths can be prevented and we continue to strive to ensure that no-one in Northern Ireland loses their life as a result of an accidental house fire – that has to be our goal.
“The steady and sustained reduction in the number of accidental fire deaths in recent years is testament to our prevention and protection work in identifying and targeting those most at risk from fire in our community.
“We have signed over 70 partnerships across the voluntary and statutory sectors, helping us to reach and engage with those people who need our help the most – including those aged over 60 and people with mobility or health issues which would impact on their ability to respond to a fire. In the last year alone, directly targeting those most at risk of fire in their home, Firefighters carried out 4,423 free Home Fire Safety Checks, provided fire safety advice and fitted 3,228 smoke alarms. I’m confident that this vital work has helped save lives in Northern Ireland.
“However there has been a slight increase in the number of accidental house fires this year. During 2017/18 Firefighters attended 896 accidental houses fires across Northern Ireland – many of which could be prevented. We cannot become complacent as there is still considerable work to be done in educating and reminding people about the main causes of accidental fires in the home.
“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 catch hold. Simple things like leaving saucepans unattended, grill pans and toasters catching fire, overloading sockets or leaving dishwashers or washing machines on overnight can have devastating consequences.
“Alongside this we continue to remind everyone in Northern Ireland of the basic fire safety measures that they should take to keep themselves safe from fire through our ‘STOP Fire’ campaign. ‘STOP Fire’ is an easy to remember fire safety message, it’s an instant check list focusing on fire safety basics – fit Smoke alarms, Test them, 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.
“I would remind anyone concerned about their fire safety or the fire safety of a family member or neighbour to please get in touch with NIFRS using the Home Fire Safety Check Referral Form on our website – www.nifrs.org. Here you will also find fire safety advice to help keep you and your family safe.
“We must all do everything we can to help stop fire in the home – one life lost is one too many.”