Fire warning after six deaths since start of year

Fire service and Police at the scene of a fatal fire in Ballycastle
Fire service and Police at the scene of a fatal fire in Ballycastle

The Fire Service is reminding people of the importance of checking their smoke alarm as figures show six people have died in house fires in Northern Ireland in the first four months of this year.

Two of those deaths happened in the space of 24 hours last week, both flat deaths in Ballycastle and Londonderry.

Fire officers said they want to reach a stage when there are no fatalities after accidental house fires in Northern Ireland.

Lloyd Crawford, Southern Area Group Commander of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said: “Six people have lost their lives in accidental house fires to date this year and tragically two people lost their lives in recent days. We would encourage everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms and to make fire safety in the home their number one priority.

“Take a few potentially lifesaving minutes to spring clean your smoke alarms by simply opening up the alarm and gently vacuuming inside it to remove any dust or insects that may be hiding within it.

“Doing this twice a year and testing your smoke alarm once a week, by pressing the test button enabling the alarm to sound for at least five seconds, will ensure that your smoke alarm is in perfect working order. A working smoke alarm will alert you and your family to the earliest stages of a fire giving you vital extra time to escape.

While 98 per cent of homes here in Northern Ireland have smoke alarms Officer Crawford said they must be checked each week to ensure they are still working.

“That’s the only way they can help save lives,” he said.

“We would ask people to also remember their older or vulnerable neighbours who might also benefit from your help to ensure their smoke alarm is properly maintained.

“A free Home Fire Safety Check could also form part of your spring cleaning routine. Firefighters will check your home to help make them fire safe. They will check for appliances that could cause fire, help with any actions to avoid fire and most importantly ensure that your smoke alarm is working. If necessary we will fit a free smoke alarm for you.

“To arrange a free Home Fire Safety Check for your own home and also for vulnerable and older family, friends and neighbours call 028 9260 0477, text phone/minicom 028 9262 8800 or go to our website for further information.”