Firefighters are warning of the potential safety risks linked to lighting up after shocking statistics reveal that almost 700 house fires were caused by smoking materials in five years.
"The number of smoking related house fires saw a significant decrease from 95 in 2013 to 62 last year so we are definitely heading in the right direction. However, every fire caused by smoking paraphernalia is one too many and we are determined to continue to reduce these incidents and help our communities to be safer. By giving up smoking, you will not only reap the associated health and financial benefits, you will also dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing a house fire."
Donna Broadhead - Prevent Manager for the north of the county
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has released the latest figures ahead of No Smoking Day on Wednesday, March 11.
Between January 1 2010 and December 31 2014 there were 366 residential blazes related to smoking paraphernalia in the north of the county with 188 in the west and 144 in the east.
During the same time period, eight people tragically died as a result of such incidents in north Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, four people in the east lost their lives and two in the west.
No Smoking Day encourages people to kick the habit and has been running since 1983, when it was called Quit for the Day. The campaign is re-designed every year to help spur smokers into action.
Donna Broadhead, Prevent Manager for the north of the county, said: "The number of smoking related house fires saw a significant decrease from 95 in 2013 to 62 last year so we are definitely heading in the right direction. However, every fire caused by smoking paraphernalia is one too many and we are determined to continue to reduce these incidents and help our communities to be safer. By giving up smoking, you will not only reap the associated health and financial benefits, you will also dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing a house fire.
"I would urge anyone who is concerned about fire safety in the home to book a free Home Fire Risk Check (HFRC) and to encourage friends and relatives to do the same – it doesn’t take long but it could save your life."
Carmel Warren, Prevent Manager for the west of the county, said: "We are absolutely committed to reducing the number of fires caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials. Tragically, two people have died in the west of Staffordshire and 188 households have experienced a fire between January 1 2010 and December 31 2014 as a result of this. The fact is that the fewer people that smoke, the fewer incidents we will have that are started by cigarettes.
"Kicking the habit will not only make people safer, it will also help their general health and save them money so it is a win, win situation."
Rebecca Gill, Prevent Manager for the east of the county, said: "We are working hard to make people aware of the risks involved with smoking in the home. There have been four deaths and 144 fires in residential properties caused by smoking materials in the east of the county in the past five years.
"We firmly believe that the fewer people that smoke, the less risk there is of residents falling victim to such incidents. That is why we have joined forces with our partners in the health service to launch the 'Time to Quit' sessions at Tamworth Community Fire Station where people can get the help, advice and support they need to break the habit. If you have been thinking of giving up, pop down to the station at any time 1.30pm-4pm on Wednesdays or call 0300 123 1161to book a place. Taking this first step could end up saving your life."
The HFRCs are free and available to anyone who lives in Staffordshire or Stoke-on-Trent. People can arrange for crew members or trained technicians to visit their home at a time that is convenient for them.
They will speak to residents about safety in the home and, using this information, try to identify and minimise risk from fire. If a property does not have working smoke alarms, the Service will fit them.
To book a HFRC call Freephone 0800 0241 999, text 07528 983101 or visit www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/bookyourhfrc.asp