‘Fit an alarm’ plea by Topsham fire chief after rise in fire-related deaths

PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 April 2016

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An increase in people dying in house fires has prompted a Topsham fire chief to urge people to get smoke alarms fitted.

The number of fire-related fatalities in house blazes across Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service’s service-area has more than doubled.

In 2015, 12 people died compared to five the previous year.

Topsham Fire Station watch commander Steve Hilton said it was ‘fortunate’ that there had been very few ‘big’ house fires in Topsham.

Mr Hilton said: “I am very surprised, as the number of deaths from house fires has been going down in recent years.

“A house fire is a very distressing incident for everyone involved. The most common cause tends to be from people cooking. What happens is they leave their appliances unattended.

“In the event of a kitchen fire, my message to people is to shut the door, get everyone out of the property, including pets, phone the fire service and not to enter the property for personal belongings.

“Residents should make sure they have smoke alarms on the first, second and third floor of their buildings. They are vital. When smoke alarms go off, they give people a few extra seconds to get out of the building. I’d like residents in Topsham to get themselves a fire alarm and get it tested once a week. They are very cheap to buy and are available in any DIY store.”

The majority of house fire and fire-related fatalities in the United Kingdom are domestic.

Last year, 80 per cent of incidents were in the home. In 2015, there were 39,600 dwelling fires.

In 31 per cent of fire incidents, the house had no smoke alarm and in 19 per cent of incidents a smoke alarm was not operational.

The watch commander also reassured residents that the town’s fire station was ‘adequately’ resourced.

Mr Hilton continued: “We have two fire pumps in the town and back-ups in both Exmouth and Middlemoor, so we are adequately resourced.”

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