Safety plea after 13 fire deaths last year

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HOUSE fires claimed the lives of 13 people in 2012 despite 98 per cent of homes having smoke alarms fitted, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has revealed.

In a plea for homeowners across the Province to step up their safety precautions, a senior fireman pledged to continue their battle to reduce the number of fatalities.

“In 2012 tragically 13 people lost their lives in accidental fires in the home.

“One death due to fire is one too many and we want to reach a stage where we have no fatalities in Northern Ireland due to accidental house fires and we remain unwavering in our commitment to that,” said Kevin O’Neill, a Group Commander with the NIFRS.

“We want to remind those people who may have become complacent about fire safety habits to make this a priority in 2013.

“By routinely completing a number of simple fire safety steps you can drastically reduce the risk of a fire in your home this year and beyond.”

Mr O’Neill urged homeowners to check their smoke alarms to ensure they are working.

He also said residents should have a fire escape plan in their homes.

“Take time to think about what would happen if a fire broke out in your home tonight - do you know how you and your family would escape safely?

“Fire deaths and injuries cause a lifetime of pain and suffering, and in 2013 we will be continuing with our work to help reduce such tragedies through our community engagement initiatives.”

The figures were revealed just two weeks, after a fire claimed the life of a man in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

David Taylor, who was 59 died after a blaze in home in the Cooke Crescent area of the town on December 23. In March last year, fire claimed three lives with a week. Two elderly women died in separate fires in Co Down and Co Armagh, while a 64-year-old man was killed in north Antrim.