A fire chief has repeated his call to the local community to seek vital support from dedicated firefighters to stay safe.
Local Senior Officer Hamish McGhie spoke out following the tragic deaths of three people in house fires within Dumfries and Galloway.
A further two people also sadly lost their lives as a result of fire within a vehicle during the same period, from April 2017 to January 2018.
LSO McGhie reached out following a meeting of the local authority’s Police, Fire and Rescue Committee on Tuesday, May 15.
He told how it was imperative to keep people safe. The experienced firefighter said: “A single fire-related death is one too many.
“Sadly, in the last nine months five people have lost their lives as a result of fire-related incidents.
“This is unacceptable, and we are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to preventing further tragedies from occurring.
“The thoughts of everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are very firmly with their families, their friends and the community at this very difficult time as well as our own personnel who were in attendance at each incident.”
LSO McGhie appealed to communities to look-out for vulnerable relatives and neighbours needing support to stay safe within their home.
The number of accidental fires within homes have fallen for the second year in a row, from 76 between April and December 2016 to 67 during the same period last year.
But he said there is no room for complacency.
He added: “Our prevention efforts are key to saving lives and reducing the risk of harm, and I would directly appeal to people in our communities to check if their elderly relatives, neighbours or friends are in need of one of our free Home Fire Safety Visits.
“Our dedicated firefighters will visit homes, give safety advice, identify potential hazards and escape routes and even installing smoke alarms where appropriate – free of charge.
“We are particularly keen to reach the most vulnerable people in the community and I again urge people to contact us where they have any concerns.”
The number of road traffic collisions on the area’s roads also increased slightly over the nine month period, up from 24 the year before to 27 this year.
LSO McGhie is also Chair of the Dumfries and Galloway Road Safety Partnership which is tasked with reducing the number of road accidents and casualties.
He continued: “We see first-hand the devastating consequences of road traffic collisions.
“That is why we work so tirelessly with our emergency service colleagues and other partners to educate our communities to risks on the road, and prevent loss of life and we will continue to do so.”
During the meeting, LSO McGhie also highlighted how deliberate primary fires - involving buildings, street furniture and structures - had fallen, down to 30 between April and December 2017 from 35 the year before.
The number of secondary deliberate fires - which include rubbish, grass and fire out in the open - had also fallen from 37 to 25 over the same periods.
LSO McGhie said: “Deliberate fires are dangerous and completely intolerable – they put communities at risk and can draw the Service’s resources away from genuine emergencies.
“However, Our robust and flexible strategic planning ensures that our communities are protected at all times.
“We take a zero tolerance approach to these incidents and work closely with our partners at Police Scotland in an effort to trace anyone involved in this unacceptable and criminal behaviour and our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages in order to keep our communities as safe as possible.”
To arrange a free Home Fire Safety visit contact SFRS on the freephone number 0800 073 1999, by texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or by visiting www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-householders/home-fire-safety-visit.aspx