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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Smoke Alarm Saved our Lives

13/12/2010

A Tamworth family who had a lucky escape from a house fire have credited a smoke alarm fitted in February by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service with saving their lives.

"If you don’t have working smoke alarms and you have a house fire, the chances are you won’t live to tell your story."

Station Manager, Paul Cullen

The family of four were all asleep in their Watling Street home when they were woken by their smoke alarm activating just before 4.00am on Sunday morning. One male, one female and their teenage children desperately sought a way out of the burning property before calling the fire service.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "At first I thought it was my phone alarm going off and thought it was a bit early. Then I heard my daughter shouting that the smoke alarm was sounding.

"I went out of the bedroom onto the landing and it was just engulfed with smoke, I’ve never felt such intense heat. My hair and eyebrows were immediately singed and I didn’t even get that close to the fire. My first thought was ‘get the kids out,’ we couldn’t breathe, so we all ran into the bathroom and I opened the window.

"That was a bit of a silly thing to do, as it caused the fire to come whooshing up the stairs, but we had no other means of escape. We’d have seriously hurt ourselves jumping from any other window but there is a flat roof under the bathroom window so we all managed to jump onto that."

Crews from Tamworth were called to the scene at 4.00am and used two hose reel jets to extinguish the fire.

A joint police and fire investigation took place once the fire was out and it was found that the fire had been started deliberately.

Station Manager, Paul Cullen said: "The fire was started on the ground floor and spread to the first floor. It has left the property fire, heat and smoke damaged; the family will not be able to return home for some time.

"Thankfully, we had carried out a free Home Fire Risk Check in February this year and fitted smoke alarms for them. The smoke alarms without a doubt saved their lives."

The woman continued: "I’ve always been one of those people who’s thought ‘it’s never going to happen to me,’ you read about these things but you just assume it wont happen to you.

"I am so grateful that we had the fire service around and that we had properly fitted and working smoke alarms. If we didn’t have those smoke alarms, we wouldn’t be here now. I think if we’d have been in the house for another ten minutes we’d have been dead, let alone if we were all still asleep."

All four occupants received treatment for smoke inhalation at the scene but did not require hospital treatment.

Paul Cullen added: "This incident highlights just how important smoke alarms are; it is proof that smoke alarms do help to save lives. We would strongly urge anyone who hasn’t had a free Home Fire Risk Check to book one now. Smoke alarms are invaluable to giving an early warning of a fire and as part of our Home Fire Risk Checks we also help people to plan escape routes.

"If you don’t have working smoke alarms and you have a house fire, the chances are you won’t live to tell your story."