Helping older people stay safe from fire is at the heart of protecting communities and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service(SFRS) is throwing its weight behind the first-ever Ageing Safely Week.
Running from 29 September to 5 October, the UK-wide initiative by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) is scheduled around Older People’s Day on 1 October.
The week will see SFRS hold a range of events and activities to engage with older people in communities throughout Scotland and showcase the work firefighters do on a daily basis to help keep residents safe.
Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, director of prevention and protection for SFRS, said: “We know older people are more likely than others to experience a fire within the home.
“Over the last five years three-quarters of preventable fire deaths in Scotland were people aged 50 years or over, and almost a third of people injured through fire were aged 60 or over.
“There are a number of reasons for this, such as the fact older people may spend more time at home or live alone.
“They are also more likely to be affected by limited mobility, long term medical conditions, dementia and other cognitive impairments, limited sight or hearing and some types of medication.
“We are absolutely committed to helping older people age safely, particularly those who are vulnerable and may be most at risk.
“Our crews constantly work with a number of partners to achieve this but the help of the public is absolutely key to successfully preventing fire tragedies.”
Statistics show that the risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages.
With an ever-increasing older population – 23 per cent of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035 – helping older people prevent fires and stay safe are certain to remain central to firefighters’ work.
SFRS crews throughout Scotland actively work to identify those who are most at risk in their communities and undertake targeted prevention and protection activities to help them stay safe.
ACO Ramsay added: “Our main platform for engagement is through Home Fire Safety Visits. Many householders get in touch with us directly, but we also receive referrals from our partner agencies like the NHS, social work departments and housing providers.
“These visits allow our crews to provide individuals with advice on fire hazards, the easy steps they can take to prevent fires from starting in the first place and how to get to safety if one does happen.
“It also enables them to identify where someone could benefit from assistive technology – things like linked smoke alarms or fire-retardant furnishings can be provided where there is a need for them.
“Ageing Safely Week is a valuable opportunity for us all to think about helping older people stay safe and confident in their homes.
“I urge anyone who knows an older person to discuss fire safety with them and help ensure they can access the great support that really is just a phone call away and could prevent a tragedy.”
To join Scotland’s fight against fire and arrange a free Home Fire Safety Visit call the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 0731 999, text ‘Check’ to 61611 or visit www.firescotland.gov.uk.
CFOA President Peter Dartford commented: “CFOA Ageing Safely Week gives fire and rescue services the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to protecting older people, particularly those who are vulnerable and may be most at risk.
“During the week services will be showcasing the work that they do with older people, to keep them safe and healthy, raising awareness of the services available, and building and developing existing and new partnerships with organisations with similar goals.”