Protecting older people from fire

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SFRS targets those most at risk and calls on the public to join Scotland's fight against fire.

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Protecting Scotland’s older people from fire, demands strong partnerships between members of the public, firefighters and other key service providers who are often in a position to spot when someone could be at risk.

This message from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) comes as population trends indicate rising life expectancy for both men and women in Scotland.

Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Lewis Ramsay, the SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “Almost 300 older people have died in fires over the past 10 years.

“This represents nearly half of the total number of fire deaths in Scotland. It is vital that we all consider the safety of those around us and help people to stay safe.

“Fire officers are working closely with partner agencies to reach those who could be at increased risk, but we also need the public to join Scotland’s fight against fire and help older people to access our services which are free and potentially life-saving.”

It is estimated that by 2035 there will be a 30 per cent increase in those aged 60 to 74 and an 80 per cent increase in people aged 75 and over. 

ACO Ramsay continued: “Over the past few years, the government has consulted widely and looked at how health and care services can continue to be delivered – and improved - for Scotland’s older people.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service stands ready to work in a co-ordinated manner with key partners to ensure residents can continue to live safely and securely within their own homes.”

Evidence gathering is a critical aspect of the SFRS’s approach, with firefighter prevention and protection work targeted to reach those most at risk.

ACO Ramsay explained further: “Statistics reveal that if you are in a house fire your risk of injury is the same regardless of where you stay – but if you live in a deprived area then the risk of you having a fire in the first place is more than three times greater.

“Certain lifestyle factors have long been known to increase the chances that someone will experience a fire within the home, with people who are older, live alone, or with limited mobility at higher than average risk.

“As such our campaigns aim to address these factors. When crews conduct a home fire safety visit they identify risks and help residents take simple steps to reduce the chance of a fire starting.

“In addition, firefighters consider whether special equipment – such as linked fire alarms or fire-retardant furnishings – may be needed to help householders stay safe.

“Also, recent campaigns have been evaluated to ensure partnership resources are allocated where they can have maximum benefit.

“Rather than focussing on the number of home visits carried out or how many people were spoken to at an event, for example, we now focus on the difference services have made and how effective local people feel these have been.”

To arrange a free home fire safety visit, residents can call SFRS on the freephone number 0800 0731 999, or text "check" to 61611. Further information is available on the SFRS website: www.firescotland.gov.uk.

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