2 December 2022
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is calling on everyone to prioritise fire safety in the home as we enter the high-risk winter period, coupled with the increased cost of living. The appeal follows the tragic death of 3 people who lost their lives in 3 separate accidental house fires in a 72 hour period.
Aidan Jennings, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, NIFRS said:
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the loved ones of the 3 men who died following fires in Edenvale Crescent, Belfast on Sunday evening, Benraw Green, Andersonstown, Belfast on Monday morning and The Pines, Cookstown on Wednesday morning.
“This is very tragic news and is a cause for concern. The 3 men were aged 58, 79 and 94 respectively which means they are in what we call our ‘at-risk’ age group.
“The winter period, from December to February, is a high-risk time of year for accidental house fires. With the cost of living impact this year we are extra aware that people may be turning to alternative ways to heat and fuel their homes.
“In trying to reduce heating costs, please keep warm safely. If you’re using portable heaters and electric blankets make sure they’re in good working order, and keep heaters away from soft furnishings and Christmas decorations. If you’re planning to light a fire you haven’t used in a while, make sure a suitably trained person services your chimney beforehand to ensure it’s not blocked, as blocked chimneys can cause carbon monoxide.
“Make sure not to overload plug sockets- electrical appliances such as electric heaters should be plugged directly into a wall socket as they are high powered. Also avoid running white goods and charging devices when you’re asleep- you will have less time to react if a fire starts.
“Christmas tree lights and candles are fire hazards so please make sure they are being used safely- turn tree lights off and blow candles out before bed or when you’re leaving the house.
“Having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms is also crucially important. If you don’t have working smoke alarms this can impact your ability to notice a fire and escape quickly – especially when your household is asleep. As a minimum you should have a working smoke alarm on each floor of your house, but consider additional alarms in the most used rooms such as living rooms and bedrooms. Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless which means working carbon monoxide alarms are vital to detect it.
“Cooking is continually the leading cause of fires in the home. Please don’t leave cooking unattended; if you have to leave the kitchen, turn the cooker off and take the saucepans off the heat.
“Take some time to think about the fire safety of your older family, friends and neighbours. Why not check in with them and make sure they too are doing all they can to stay safe from fire? If you feel that you, or someone you know, could benefit from additional advice from us, then please apply for a free Home Fire Safety Check on our website www.nifrs.org.
“As a Fire & Rescue Service we want the community to know that we are here to support you and make sure you are doing all you can to stay safe from fire this winter. Please follow our fire safety advice so that you can have a safe and enjoyable Christmas.”