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23 September 2020
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils and fire authorities in England, says this autumn may pose a potentially greater fire risk as this is when people typically start to use heaters, open fires and cook hot food. What's more, there is a high chance that more people up and down the country will be working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Councillor Ian Stephens warned 'by not having a working smoke alarm, the lives of more than two million households are at increased risk. Smoke alarms are proven life-savers and can make the single vital difference between surviving and dying in a fire.'
Furthermore, 'the figures also show that only a quarter of people who own a smoke alarm test it every month, even though people are eight times more likely to die in a fire in a home without one.'
Councillor Ian Stephens continued to say "smoke alarm ownership has risen over the years to more than 90 per cent, but this positive trend is being dangerously undermined if people don’t check that their alarms are working.
’Many of us are still at home more as a result of the pandemic. The onset of autumn is a timely reminder to anyone without a smoke alarm to buy and fit one as soon as possible and to those already with smoke alarms to test them regularly and change batteries where necessary."
This troubling news come at a time where fire and rescue services have experienced a huge increase in demand for prevention and protection work following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. This includes fire safety checks which have had to be carried out by a fire service workforce which has fallen in recent years alongside reductions in government funding for all standalone fire and rescue authorities.
The LGA has claimed that this is 'unsustainable and could expose communities to risk unless the new provisions or expectations on fire and rescues services arising from the Hackitt review or subsequent changes in policy are treated as a new burden and funded separately'
The LGA is keen to work with government ahead of the Spending Review to ensure fire and rescue services have enough funding to help improve prevention work, which will help to increase the rate of working smoke alarms.