Alarming figures – fire chiefs warn one-third of fire-stricken homes had no smoke alarms

Phil Lancaster, director of community protection with Cleveland Fire Brigade.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection with Cleveland Fire Brigade.

Fire chiefs have launched an appeal after it was revealed that there were no smoke alarms present at the scene of a third of house blazes.

The figures, released by Cleveland Fire Brigade, have sparked calls to have them fitted urgently to save lives.

Working smoke alarms save lives but only if they are in the right place

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade

From April to June there were 48 accidental house fires, of which 17 – or 35% – had no alarms.

The appeal comes at a time when a national campaign is calling for at least one working smoke alarm or ‘unsung hero’ on every level of a home as one is not enough.

Last year alarms alerted people to just under half of fires in the home as they were out of range.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Working smoke alarms save lives but only if they are in the right place.

“One on every level is an absolute minimum.

“Without alarms you are four times more likely to die in a fire.

“Check you have them as a matter of urgency and then make sure they are working properly.

“Get into the habit of testing them every week.

“Like worn toothbrushes, thinning carpets and ageing boilers, older smoke alarms need replacing.

“If yours are ten years old, their time is up.

“A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and dial 999. They can save your life.”

Residents are also advised to test alarms once a week and change the batteries once a year, in case of removable batteries.

Householders are also told to clean the alarm casing every six months to ensure dust is not blocking the sensor, and to plan their escape route.