Retained firefighter tells how she helps protect her community from harm

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Angus firefighter Judi Young has dedicated herself to preventing fires in the homes of the most vulnerable

Across Angus there was more than one accidental house fire every day last year – almost all of which could have been prevented.

Almost half of the 386 house fires that Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended during 2017-18 in this area were in the kitchen, caused by cooking – and 34 people sustained burns or smoke inhalation – so we spoke to local firefighter Judi Young about how we can prevent house fires this Christmas.

As Angus’ Community Safety Advocate, and with 12 years’ experience as a retained firefighter at Kirriemuir Fire Station, Judi is passionate about spreading SFRS’s prevention message as she has seen the devastating consequences first-hand.

Judi, 35, said: “My role involves educating people, doing talks at schools, carrying out Home Fire Safety Visits and working with partner agencies to target hard-to-reach people and those most at risk – prevention is a big part of what I do. Every day is different.

“As a retained firefighter, it can be quite exciting when the pager goes off, but I am covering the area I live in, work in, and where my family and friends stay. Some of the call-outs I attend are to people I know, but ‘touch wood’ none of my family and friends have been involved – that’s because I am always on their backs about fire prevention!” she laughed.

Now the Kirriemuir crew manager wants to encourage Courier readers to adopt simple practices to reduce the risks of fire breaking out at their home. Already, the number of accidental house fires across Perth, Kinross, Angus and Dundee have dropped from 435 in 2015-16 to 386 in 2017-18 – and fortunately there were no fatalities last year – but the statistics are still concerning.

Judi added: “We are speaking to more people than ever before through our free Home Fire Safety Visits, which are carried out daily. 386 fires is a number we would like to reduce, so we want to come to your home – or someone you know – to carry out a HFSV.

“Cooking caused 180 of these dwelling fires so our advice is: don’t leave cooking unattended. It is easy for people to get distracted, but don’t walk away from the oven, stay in the cooking area.

“When people are out drinking, the temptation is to come home and cook, but this is dangerous, so get a takeaway or have something already prepared. A lot of elderly people, or those with medical conditions and on heavy medication, can leave pots unattended or fall asleep

“We want the people of Perth, Kinross, Angus and Dundee to be aware and get ahead of the game.”

Not long after Judi became a retained firefighter, in 2007, she attended a chip pan fire – at a home that didn’t have a smoke alarm installed.

She added: “Chip pans were a big cause of house fires back then – less so now as we advise people to use deep fat fryers instead – and they cause huge fires that can destroy a person’s kitchen.

“The occupant of the house we were called out to didn’t realise the fire had started, and because they didn’t have a smoke alarm (or heat detector), by the time they did realise, the fire was well-developed.

“A smoke alarm is a lifesaver as it gives you an early warning sign and we install them free of charge during our Home Fire Safety Visits. We also recommend fitting a heat alarm that goes off once the kitchen reaches a certain temperature.”

  • To arrange a free Home Fire Safety Visit call 0800 0731 999, text ‘FIRE’ to 80800 from your mobile phone or visit to find the number of your local fire station, or complete an online form.


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