16 October 2014
According to a report from Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue, Smoking materials have been the biggest cause of accidental fire deaths in Northern Ireland, accounting for over 40% of all accidental fire deaths over the past five years.
“Tragically there have been 51 accidental fire deaths over the past 5 years and 21 of these were as a direct result of smoking materials,” says NIFRS.
As part of Fire Safety Week 2014, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) reminded the public of the dangers of smoking and smoking materials in their homes and the potentially fatal consequences.
Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Community Protection, NIFRS said: “Over the past year we have attended 57 house fires caused by smoking materials, there have been 28 casualties and sadly three people lost their lives. Smoking materials remain a major cause of accidental house fires in Northern Ireland and it is a key area of safety that we need to address through our prevention and protection work.
“Fires caused by smoking materials can spread very rapidly within moments through a house. I would remind the public to be extra careful if they are smoking or disposing of smoking materials in their home. Make sure cigarettes are stubbed out properly before going to bed and be extra careful if you have been drinking alcohol or are feeling drowsy. Never ever smoke in bed or leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe unattended as they burn downwards and can easily overturn and set fire to something. Young children are always attracted to matches or lighters and these should also be kept out of reach.
“Unfortunately our Firefighters experience firsthand the destruction and devastation caused by fires in the home started by smoking materials and we would appeal to the public to be extra vigilant as it only takes a few moments for a serious fire to develop. A working smoke alarm should also be fitted in all homes to alert people to a fire and people should have a fire escape plan in case a fire breaks out. We offer a free Home Fire Safety Check and Firefighters will visit your home to look for fire risks and can fit free smoke alarms if required.”
Gerry Bleakney, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control, Public Health Agency, added: “Fire Safety Week provides an excellent opportunity to encourage smokers to give up their habit by reminding them of the deadly dangers of lighting up in the home.
“With smoking being one of the most common reasons for accidental fires within the home, the best way to reduce your risk is by stopping smoking. Not only will this reduce your risk of starting a fire, but it can help prevent smoking-related illnesses such as coronary heart disease, stroke and many cancers.
A suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment must be conducted on all commercial properties in Northern Ireland under the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
If the fire risk assessment is deemed to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Appropriate Person can face an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.