7 October 2019
Former Northern Ireland Goalkeeper Pat Jennings has teamed up with Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) to highlight the added risk from fire to people aged 50 and over.
It has been revealed that 87% of people who lost their lives in accidental house fires in the last 4 years were aged 50 and over.
This striking statistic, released as part of North South Fire Safety Week 2019, has prompted NIFRS to reduce their ‘People at Risk’ from fire age to those aged 50 and over. Previously it covered anyone aged 60 and over.
74 year old Pat Jennings has come on board as a new Community Safety Ambassador to help raise awareness among that demographic about the importance of fire safety in the home.
Organised in partnership with the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in the Republic of Ireland, North South Fire Safety Week aims to promote fire safety, with the ultimate goal of zero accidental fire deaths and will be officially launched by the Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane at a special ceremony in Belfast Central Fire Station on Monday 7 October.
This year’s theme is ‘Safer Together’ and the focus is on how NIFRS works with partner organisations to help keep people safe from fire, and also how the community can support each other and NIFRS to help STOP fire.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Director Service Delivery explains:
“We’re delighted to be teaming up with Pat Jennings as our new Community Safety Ambassador to help save lives from fire. 27 of the 31 people (87%) who lost their lives in accidental fires in the last 4 years were aged 50 and over, prompting us to lower our ‘People at Risk’ age group.
“Many of this age group will remember the legendary Pat Jennings for his heroics in goals for Northern Ireland. He will be a great ambassador to allow us reach even more people at risk to help protect our community this Fire Safety Week and beyond.
“Our focus is on working together through partnerships, and most importantly our biggest partnership is with the community. We will continue to work tirelessly to reach the people most at risk; however we need the community’s help to do this. This Fire Safety Week I would like to encourage you to check in with your older neighbours and family members, and with those who are more at risk from fire. If you are concerned about their safety, arrange a free home fire safety check for them via our website. Together we can achieve our goal of zero accidental fire deaths. One life lost is one too many.”
Pat Jennings added:
“I’m really pleased to be working with NIFRS to help kick off Fire Safety Week and raise awareness of fire safety in the home. Like over 30% of our wee country, I fall into that age demographic of 50 and over, who are most at risk from fire.
“I think it’s really important that we are all aware of simple fire safety steps we can take to help keep our home safe from fire and what help is available for people like me. NIFRS offers a free home fire safety check to those most at risk from fire – people aged 50 and over, anyone who has a disability or impaired mobility, or anyone with a health condition that would impact on their ability to respond to an emergency. Firefighters will install or check that smoke alarms are working, help to identify any obvious dangers and advise on an escape plan. I would encourage people my age to use this potentially lifesaving service.”
Minister Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government said at the launch:
“This year’s theme, ‘Safer Together’, is a welcome reminder that we all have a part to play to keep ourselves, and each other, safe from the dangers of fire. The campaign not only encourages people to have smoke alarms and test them but also for the wider community to look out for each other – especially those most vulnerable and at risk. This year’s theme asks that communities check in with vulnerable relatives, neighbours and friends and ensure they are mindful of fire safety, have working smoke alarms and have an escape plan in the event of a fire. We can all be ‘safer together’.”