Call to action in East Dunbartonshire

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Emerging trend identified of small fires starting in the kitchen when an older person has become distracted or fallen asleep


FIREFIGHTERS have appealed for the public to help them prevent tragedies and protect vulnerable people in East Dunbartonshire.

The call to action comes after a detailed analysis by the area’s Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) team revealed accidental house fires often involve older residents who live on their own.

Officers discovered an emerging trend of small fires starting in the kitchen when someone has become distracted or fallen asleep.

Local crews have massively increased the number of free home fire safety visits carried out and fire stations are running Cook Safe courses to help potentially vulnerable people further recognise the risks in the kitchen.
Firefighters are clear however that they need responsible citizens to put them in touch with those who may be at highest risk.

Area Manager Jim Hymas, the local senior officer, explained: “We use a targeted approach to reach out to people who could be more likely than others to experience a fire.

“By working with partner agencies we are able to identify vulnerable members of our communities and reach out to them.

“But we need everyone to play their part by putting us in touch with any family members, neighbours or friends who could use our help to stay safe and feel secure in their home.

“Every fire fatality is a tragic event, bringing years of misery for a family. We all need to act to prevent them.”

The number of accidental house fires in East Dunbartonshire has remained relatively steady for the past two years, with 71 such incidents from April 2015 to March 2016 and 69 over the previous 12 months.

No-one was killed or seriously hurt as a result of the fires in the 2015/16 reporting period, though nine people sustained minor injuries.

In recent months however, two people tragically lost their lives as a result of house fires in Milngavie and Kirkintilloch.

Better fire detection within homes means SFRS crews are increasingly called to minor incidents that in the past may have either stayed small and went unreported, or spread through the property with potentially tragic consequences.

Mr Hymas said: “While there were no fire fatalities or serious injuries in the reporting period the two tragedies since then are a sad reminder that none of us can ever afford to take fire safety for granted.
“Early warning of a fire in the home is absolutely vital because smoke, heat and flames can all spread rapidly – so it buys crucial time for our crews to get there and bring it to a safe conclusion.

“The impact of the general increase in smoke detector ownership is clear and that’s why we want to make sure everyone has the protection they need.”

In the 12 months to the end of March SFRS crews carried out over 1,450 free home fire safety visits in East Dunbartonshire and fitted more than 1,050 smoke and heat alarms.

During the visits local firefighters make residents aware of common hazards and help them take simple steps to reduce the risk.

Mr Hymas added: “We will continue to deliver home fire safety visits targeted towards those individuals most at risk and to make sure they understand the risks associated with cooking.

“A moment’s distraction in the kitchen can have terrible consequences so people should never step away from the cooker while something is on the hob or under the grill.

“We will also be running Cook Safe courses to help potentially vulnerable people better understand the risks, so that they can stay safe and feel safe in their homes.”

Free home fire safety visits are available by calling 0800 073 1999, texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or filling in a form at