Plea to protect older people following house fire deaths

WYFRS Area Manager for Fire Safety, Ian Bitcon

WYFRS Area Manager for Fire Safety, Ian Bitcon

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West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is urging communities to look out for older people after six deaths since the beginning of March.

The call comes following a recent spate of fatalities in house fires in West Yorkshire – four of which were in Leeds, one in Kirklees and one in Bradford.

One of the fatalities was over the age of 55 and the rest were all over the age of 60, five out of the six were male and most lived alone.

In five out of the six cases Fire Investigators have concluded that the fire was caused by smoking materials, however, in all cases the cause of death is subject to a pending Coroner’s Inquest.

WYFRS Area Manager for Fire Safety, Ian Bitcon, said: “Fortunately, the number of fires attended by the fire service which involve a death are very few these days.

“However, to have this many in such a short period of time is unusual and we are treating this seriously. We always look at the circumstances surrounding the fire and these cases indicate several high risk factors.

“We know that older people who live alone are more at risk of fire and some of these cases also prove the rule that smoking and alcohol do not mix.”

In only one of the six cases did the occupant have a fitted and working smoke alarm.

Area Mnager Bitcon added: “We know historically that Home Fire Safety Checks have resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of fires in the home – having a working smoke alarm is absolutely crucial.

“If you know someone that may be at risk then don’t turn a blind eye. You can encourage them to book a safety check or make contact on their behalf and we will take it from there. You might just save a life.”

To book a FREE Home Fire Safety Check online visit http://www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/contact#safety-check or call 0800 5874536.