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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Alcohol and Cooking Don’t Mix

27/06/2011

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have issued a stark warning to residents in Staffordshire – don’t drink and cook.

"The message here is simple – don’t drink and cook."

Station Manager, Mick Daniels

The warning comes following two incidents in North Staffordshire over the weekend where people had been under the influence of alcohol, started cooking and caused house fires.

The first incident took place on Friday evening at 9.45pm on Dawlish Drive in Bentilee. Crews were called to reports of a kitchen fire in a flat and on arrival found a 35 year old man outside with a neighbour.

Firefighters entered the property wearing breathing apparatus and used one hose reel jet to extinguish the fire, which had been started by an unattended chip pan. The man appeared to be intoxicated and had suffered some smoke inhalation.

Another incident took place on Wedgewood Street in Wolstanton in the early hours of Sunday morning. Crews were called to the premises by a friend of the occupant at around 1.20am and on arrival a strong smell of burning was present.

Crews investigated further and discovered a man inside a flat where a kitchen fire was in progress. A woman who also lives in the flat was found in a neighbouring flat; both appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and were disorientated.

Station Manager, Mick Daniels said: "In both incidents, the occupants appear to have been drinking and then proceeded to cook. It seems that they had fallen asleep after putting food in cooking appliances and the food then caught fire.

"Thankfully vigilant neighbours alerted the fire service about these incidents and the occupants of both flats were able to escape relatively unharmed. The message here is simple – don’t drink and cook.

"It doesn’t take long for unattended food to catch fire and whilst it’s common to get an attack of the munchies when you’ve had a drink it is not a good idea to attempt to cook when your abilities are impaired.

"You could sit down on the sofa, intending to go back to your food soon but seconds later you’ve closed your eyes and then you’re asleep and oblivious to the danger in your kitchen.

"It is also a common occurrence that people under the influence of alcohol do not hear their smoke alarms operating and so both of these incidents could have been far worse."

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service launched a cooking campaign in March which specifically targets people who may get an attack of the munchies after a night drinking and be tempted to start cooking - then fall asleep leaving their pan unattended. 

As part of the campaign, a poster showing a man, beer in hand, asleep on the sofa whilst a pan catches fire on the hob in the kitchen entitled ‘Don’t Make Fast Food Your Last Food. Watch Your Pan.’ Statistics show that 45% of the fires in the last year involved people who were living alone and 1 in 3 fire deaths is alcohol related.