Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

NIFRS Lowers ‘People at Risk’ Age to 50 and Older

NIFRS Lowers ‘People at Risk’ Age to 50 and Older

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has lowered the age group for those it deems most ‘at risk’ from accidental fires in the home to people aged 50 and older.  

 In the last 3 years, 19 people tragically lost their lives in accidental house fires.  17 or 89.5% were aged over 50.  9 people were aged 50 – 59 and a further 8 were aged 60 and over.  As a result NIFRS has lowered its ‘People at Risk’ age definition by 10 years to 50 and older as outlined in its People at Risk Strategy 2016 – 2021.

The reduction in age, coupled with other risk factors, will enable NIFRS working in conjunction with over 80 partner agencies across the voluntary and statutory sectors, to target fire safety resources where they are needed most. The aim is to further reduce the number of accidental house fires and resulting injuries and deaths in Northern Ireland.   

The change in the age group to the ‘People at Risk’ definition is being officially launched by NIFRS today (Monday 15 April 2019) at an event to thank and recognise the contribution of partnership agencies in helping NIFRS to target those within the community who are most at risk from fire. The event will also explore what else can be done, via the partnership approach, to better help protect the community.

Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire and Rescue Officer, Director Service Delivery explains: 

“Whilst fire safety is an important issue for everyone, we can’t ignore the fact that there are people who because of their age and circumstances are at higher risk.  The reality is if you are aged 50 or older you are more at risk from a house fire. It’s a stark statistic that over the last 3 years 89.5% of those who have died in accidental house fires were within this age group. 

“Almost 90% of these were people living alone.  With an aging population and a greater emphasis on supporting people to live independently at home, we need to make sure that our fire safety preventative measures are targeted at people most at risk from fire.

“Three years ago we launched our People at Risk Strategy and collaborative working underpinned our approach in helping us reach and target those in our community who needed our help the most.

“Since then Firefighters have completed 13,117 free Home Fire Safety Checks right across Northern Ireland, prioritised towards those most at risk in our community.   33% of these (4,392) were generated directly from a referral from a partnership agency and this is testament to the success of these mutually beneficial relations across the statutory, voluntary and community sectors. I’m confident that this approach has undoubtedly helped save lives within Northern Ireland and enhanced the well-being of so many who fall into our ‘at risk’ category.

“I want to thank our partners for their tireless work to date and I look forward to building on these relationships, in new and innovative ways, to enhance the wider well-being and safety of our community.  

“If you are aged 50 or older and you are concerned about your own fire safety or indeed the fire safety of someone in your community you can find out more fire safety advice or register them for a free Home Fire Safety Check by visiting our website  We must do all we can to help STOP fire – one life lost is one too many.”

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