Fire chiefs issue safety warning after cigarettes cause dozens of blazes

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

Smokers are being warned to stay safe after dozens of blazes were caused by cigarettes in recent years.

Cleveland Fire Brigade says a discarded cigarette set fire to a waste bin in a kitchen damaging the floor and there have been similar incidents where garden decking has been accidentally set alight.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “While these recent incidents have caused minor damage to people’s homes and gardens, the results could have easily been a lot worse.

“Clearly we would urge people not to smoke, not only due to the risk of fire, but also to give them and their families a healthier lifestyle.

“But for those who choose to smoke, our message is simple. Put it out, right out. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished before getting rid of it.

“Also, make sure you have adequate ashtrays, or if you are out in the garden, don’t just throw them away as they can cause serious damage.

“Buckets filled with sand are a sensible fire safety measure.

“It is also vital that you fit smoke alarms on every level of the home and test them once a week.

“Without a working smoke alarm you are at least four times more likely to die in an accidental fire in the home.”

There have been more than 40 smoking related fires in the home in Cleveland during the past three years.

These simple safety steps include:

• Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.

• Never smoke indoors when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape.

• Put it out, right out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.

• Fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.

• Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down.

• Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn.