26 September 2014

Peter Dartford, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), has called on Government and local authorities to increase their support for assistive technology.

Speaking at a national conference exploring mental health, ageing, and assistive technology held in Staffordshire recently, Peter voiced his support for the provision of technologies that enable people most at risk of accidental harm and injury to remain safe, well, and independent.

Peter Dartford said: “In an emergency, relatively simple technology such as a smoke alarm linked to a telecare system, a falls detector or cooker shutdown device could mean the difference between life and death. Day to day its impact is just as profound, enabling older people, in particular, to remain independent for as long as possible by providing peace of mind to them and their family and carers.”

The mental health and assistive technology conference brought together speakers from the University of Chester, the University of Ulster, NHS England, and the Wisdom Factory CIC, alongside CFOA to discuss how fire and rescue services can work with partners to make this happen.

Mr Dartford added: “Influencing the design and availability of assistive technology is a key priority set out in our first national Home Safety Strategy, which we published last year. The hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms we’ve fitted over the last 15 years have saved countless lives and fire deaths are the lowest they’ve been since the 1960s. We recognise, however, that those who are now most at risk of dying in fire are those with complex vulnerabilities for whom a regular smoke alarm might not be enough.

Graham Ellicott, the FIA’s CEO comments: “The FIA fully endorses Peter Dartford’s call for Government to increase their support for assistive technology; in particular Government could offer commercial drivers for this work as well as some funding. For example, couldn’t the VAT rate on such products and services could be reduced to zero?”

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

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