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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Fire Victim Backs Cooking Safety Campaign

04/04/2011

A Staffordshire family who had a kitchen fire in March last year are backing Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s cooking campaign.

"It goes to show a fire really can happen to anyone. It was unbelievable how quickly the whole house filled with smoke."

Fire Victim, Sharon Mason

The family of four from Rugeley had received free smoke alarms as part of a Home Fire Risk Check from firefighters on Christmas Eve 2009 and just three months later credited them with saving their lives after a grill pan caught fire.

The family, Sharon Mason, her husband and two children as well as five Labradors managed to get out of the property. They suffered from smoke inhalation and were  treated at the scene.

Sharon said: "The fire started after my husband had cooked some cheese on toast and mistakenly left the grill turned on. He’d closed the grill door and some collected fat in the pan had then set on fire.

"It goes to show a fire really can happen to anyone. It was unbelievable how quickly the whole house filled with smoke. One of the best things we have ever done is have that Home Fire Risk Check as the smoke alarms and knowledge of a safe escape route saved our lives that day.

"It has made us all more cautious – we all double check everything is turned off now and we never leave any cooking unattended. We also never start cooking if it’s quite late at night as we don’t want to risk falling asleep whilst food is cooking.

"We don’t want any other families to go through what we have and if all it takes to help people stay safer is a free phone call to Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service I don’t think anyone has a reason not to call. It could save your life, it saved ours."

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s cooking campaign specifically targets two groups who are most at risk of kitchen fires; families with children who can become easily distracted when cooking and men aged 40 plus who may be tempted to cook themselves a quick snack after getting home form the pub - then fall asleep leaving their cooking unattended.

In the period from April 2009 to December 2010, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service attended a total of 1,057 house fires – over half of which were caused by cooking.

As part of the campaign two posters have been distributed to public places including shops, local Sainsbury’s stores, pubs and nightclubs, job centres and nurseries.

Members of the public are encouraged to contact Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service for their free Home Risk Check if they have not already done so. This involves a member of staff from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service visiting your home at an agreed time – day, evening or weekend - and accompanying the owner around every room in their property with the aim of:

• Spotting fire risks in the home.
• Making sure they know what to do in order to reduce these risks.
• Helping to plan an escape route if there is a fire.
• Ensuring there are working smoke alarms on every floor of the home.