Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is backing calls made by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association to legally enforce the installation of sprinklers in all domestic properties.
"Smoke alarms do an excellent job in alerting people to fires and we recommend that each and every home has smoke detection as a minimum standard of protection."
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford
The campaign has been stepped up following the results of a study carried out by Strathclyde University which found that young children were often not woken by standard smoke alarms.
The research – ‘The effectiveness of domestic smoke detectors in waking children: a UK study’ – was promoted by a major fire in Derbyshire.
A total of 204 tests were conducted as part of the study which involved 20 girls and 14 boys between the ages of two and 13.
The tests were carried out in the children’s homes using standard domestic smoke alarms which were fitted in the properties.
Parents activated the smoke alarms continuously for one minute after the children had gone to bed and recorded the time for each child to wake up. The children were not pre-warned about the tests.
The results were:
• Eighty per cent of the all of the male children slept through the alarms on all six tests
• Only seven children, all girls, work up during any of the six tests
• Only two children, both 10-year-old girls, woke each time the alarm was sounded during the six individual tests
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford said: “In Staffordshire we are 100 per cent committed to bringing about legislative changes so that every home is protected by a sprinkler system.
"Smoke alarms do an excellent job in alerting people to fires and we recommend that each and every home has smoke detection as a minimum standard of protection. However, this study has revealed compelling evidence that many children are not sensitive to the sound. Our advice is to make a plan to get out alive. If you have any doubts then please call us on 0800 241 999 to book a free home fire risk check.
"Sprinkler systems protect those who have not heard the smoke alarm or who have been unable to escape. Too many people are losing their lives in circumstances that can be avoided. We cannot afford to waste time, and lives, by ignoring evidence like this. We need to act now.
"Wales has already introduced legislation which will see all new build domestic properties fitted with sprinklers as standard. It’s time England followed suit and we’d urge the people of Staffordshire to push this issue with their local councillors and MPs. To do nothing is accepting that death by fire is OK when it clearly isn’t."