Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is issuing a stark Christmas fire safety warning as it reveals 9 people have tragically lost their lives as a result of accidental house fires during December and January over the past 2 years.
Last year, from 1 Dec 16 – 31 Jan 17, 4 people died and Firefighters attended 167 accidental house fires, 56 people were injured and 9 of these people were rescued by Firefighters. The top causes of these house fires were cooking and cooking appliances (53) such as grill pans, cookers or chip pans left unattended and electrical equipment / electrical supply (51). Smoking materials (8) and candles (8) also accounted for 16 accidental house fires.
Christmas Fire Safety Advice:
- Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Don’t use lights with worn or frayed cables. Turn off lights at night or when you are leaving the house
- Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings. Don’t leave them burning unattended
- Make sure your family and guests staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Make a fire escape plan
- Decorations can burn easily – don’t attach them to lights or heaters
- Never overload electrical sockets
- Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents is greater after alcohol is consumed
- Most fires start in the kitchen – never leave a cooker unattended
- Make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished before going to bed
- Test your smoke alarm every week and make sure to replace the battery or the smoke alarm if it is not working
- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children
- Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas – make sure they are fire safe
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Prevention & Protection explains: “The Christmas period is traditionally a busy time for us. Accidental house fires tend to increase at this time of year as people spend more time at home cooking and entertaining. Additional fire hazards such as candles, fairy tree lights, portable heaters, overloaded sockets and open fires are all potential causes of fire.
“A fire can start very easily and spread rapidly and while we want people to enjoy themselves during Christmas they should not be complacent about their fire safety. Our goal is that no-one in Northern Ireland loses their life due to an accidental house fire and reducing the risk of a fire occurring in the first instance will ultimately help us achieve this goal.”
“Through our ‘STOP Fire’ campaign we are reminding people of the basic fire safety measures that everyone should have. ‘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. Also if you have visitors staying for Christmas ensure that they are aware of your fire escape plans and what to do in an emergency.
“At this time of year it’s more crucial than ever that we check in with our older family friends and neighbours. Please ensure they have a working smoke alarm, check their home for Christmas fire hazards and advise them of steps they can take to help ‘STOP’ fire in their home. If you are worried about the fire safety of someone in your community you can register them for a free Home Fire Safety Check by visiting our website www.nifrs.org”.
“We want people to enjoy themselves but also to stay safe over the coming weeks by taking simple but sensible fire safety steps to ‘STOP Fire’.