Welcome from the Chief
Plan for safety
Many of us made New Year’s resolutions at the start of the month – how many are still going strong? One resolution I’m hoping that residents across the region will adhere to is to protect their homes by taking on board some basic safety advice.
We had a number of serious and tragic fires during 2017 – so my plea to the public is for us to work together to make 2018 as safe as possible.
Smoke alarms save lives
The most important piece of advice I can give is to ensure you have working smoke alarms installed and test them regularly - a working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in the event of a fire, and the early warning to allow firefighters to tackle it before it takes hold. We’ve seen many instances of smoke alarms alerting occupants over the last year, including an incident in March where a couple who called 999 after hearing a smoke alarm activating helped save the life of a man from a fire in a property on Ambrose Street, Bangor.
Smoke alarms offer vital protection for you and your loved ones, but most people simply fit and forget, and are not aware when the detector might be coming to the end of its lifespan. There’s nothing more important than keeping our family safe and secure – so it should be easy to find the motivation to make this a resolution that you will definitely want to keep.
Remember to maintain your alarms in good working order and test them by pushing the button regularly. Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home - fit smoke alarms on landings, hallways and in rooms which have an electrical appliance. Also, please take a moment to check on your less able loved ones to ensure that they are also fully protected.
Last January the three Welsh Fire and Rescue Services launched their new campaign – ‘When Do you Do It?’ – to ensure that homes across Wales are kept safe from the risk of fire, and have been successfully promoting the ‘Test it!’ message throughout 2017, with the launch of the fun animation ‘Reasons to Test’ in May.
Cooking is the main cause of house fires in North Wales – it’s important therefore that you never leave cooking unattended. Avoid cooking while under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when finished with them. It may sound obvious advice but you would be surprised how many incidents we attend where this has resulted in lives being put at risk. In July and August we attended two very similar incidents in Wrexham where residents suffered smoke inhalation after leaving cooking left unattended – unfortunately this is the kind of incident which happens all too often. It is so easy to forget your cooking, especially if you are tired, distracted or have been drinking. However, the consequences can be devastating.
Candles Candles are a naked flame and so pose an obvious risk - so don’t leave them unattended. Keep them in a secure holder, out of the reach of children and away from flammable material such as curtains, lights and heaters, and don’t leave them burning unattended.
Cigarette fires If you’re a smoker, put your cigarette out - right out. Make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished and take care when drinking alcohol or if you are tired. It's easy to fall asleep while a cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
E-cigarettes also carry their own dangers - all e-cigarettes use a rechargeable battery to power the vaporiser and these batteries require recharging on a regular basis. I would advise you only ever purchase these products from a reputable source and only use the battery and charger provided with the e-cigarette when charging. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidance, and turn off and unplug them before you go to bed. Never leave items on charge or unattended for long periods as e-cigarettes are known to overheat when charging.
Many of the fires we attend in North Wales are electrical – to prevent such a fire you should avoid overloading sockets, and ensure you only use one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
Electricity is often overlooked as a fire hazard, perhaps because there is no flame but just because there is no flame, doesn't mean there's no risk – never underestimate the risk of fire from electricity.
In December last year we supported Electrical Safety First’s campaign regarding the dangers of using aftermarket chargers – always buy from a reputable source and ever mix and match chargers – always use the charger supplied. In September, crews were called to two fires involving phone chargers in Flintshire on the same day - both fires involved phone chargers left switched on but not plugged into a phone. Always turn off chargers when not in use and never charge overnight.
What to do if there is a fire
I hope that you never experience a fire in your home - but it’s vital that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire.
Practice your escape route so you can safely get out, stay out and call 999.
Best wishes for a safe and happy 2018.