Smoke alarms proving their worth in North Lanarkshire

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Fall in fire casualties attributed to increased use of the devices, but three tragedies show the importance of working together to prevent fires.

SFRS name line on appliance

Better fire detection systems are helping to prevent house fires in North Lanarkshire from causing serious injury to people and severe damage to property.

The area’s Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) team said a reduction in fire casualties was due to an increased use of smoke alarms in homes, with the devices providing earlier warning to residents in emergencies.

Group Manager Paul Devlin, the SFRS head of protection and prevention in North Lanarkshire, explained: “When fire strikes every second counts.

“Even the smallest fires produce toxic smoke and this can spread from room to room very quickly, endangering life long before flames actually take hold and there is a significant fire to fight.

“Smoke alarms in a property detect the fire at its earliest stages and provides early warning to the occupants.

“That buys crucial time for those in the property to get out and call 999, while giving firefighters a better chance of reaching anyone who is still inside and preventing its destruction.”

Forty-four people were hurt as a result of fires in North Lanarkshire in the nine months to 31 December 2015, most of whom suffered only minor smoke inhalation requiring precautionary check-ups from medical personnel at the scene or in hospital.

The figure represents a 12 per cent fall from the average 50 casualties recorded during the same period over the three previous years.

Despite the drop in casualties tragedy struck the area as three people lost their lives through fires and SFRS is clear no-one can afford to take their safety, or that of people close to them, for granted.

Area Manager Iain McCusker, the local senior officer said: “Fire can happen to absolutely anyone and with more properties protected by smoke alarms we’re actually attending more incidents, because small fires are being spotted early and people are rightly calling 999.

“Responding to these minor incidents helps prevent serious emergencies down the line because it means our crews can identify if someone needs some help and advice to stay safe.

“After every house fire we engage with residents of the affected property as well as those in neighbouring homes, which gives us the chance to identify where a person could be vulnerable to fire and take steps to reduce any risks.

“Sadly, three people died as a result of fires during the nine month period and these tragedies have to make us all determined to do whatever we can to prevent fires and the devastation they cause.”

Between 1 April and 31 December 2015 firefighters in North Lanarkshire conducted more than 3,000 free home fire safety visits, 867 of which were carried-out as part of crews’ response to house fires.

The popular service is available throughout North Lanarkshire but SFRS is clear it needs the public to put firefighters in touch with older people and others who could be at increased risk of experiencing a fire in the home.

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

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