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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Bereaved Sister Supports SAME Campaign

28/04/2017

A Lichfield woman who lost her brother in a flat fire is supporting Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s SAME Campaign.

“Anything that can help prevent someone else going through the heartache that we have been through has got to be welcomed, so I support the Service’s SAME campaign which aims to raise awareness of the factors that increase your risk of dying in a fire."

Carolyn Parker

Flat fire scene

The campaign is based on 10 years of evidence which shows that one or more of the following factors greatly increase your risk of dying in a fire; being a smoker, drinking alcohol, having poor mobility and/or being elderly. The campaign uses the acronym SAME to make it easy for people to remember the four factors: smoking, alcohol, mobility, elderly.

Sadly, Carolyn Parker lost her brother, Robin (Robert) Breese, in a fire at his home in Burton-Upon-Trent in December 2010. Upon hearing of the new campaign she agreed to back it by telling her brothers story and releasing devastating photographs from the scene of the fire in the hope it would prevent others from losing a loved one.

Robin, aged 59, was found by firefighters on the sofa in the living room of his ground floor flat in Branston Road. They took him outside and attempted to resuscitate him but sadly he died at the scene.

Robin Breese

A fire investigation established that the most likely cause of the fire was either smoking materials not being disposed of appropriately, with alcohol also being a contributing factor, or the fact that Robin had removed the fire guard from his gas fire and slept on the sofa which had been pushed up too close to the fire. The damage was so severe the exact cause will never be known.

Carolyn said: “I was very close to my brother; I visited him weekly and spoke to him on the day he died. His death came as a horrible shock, we never got to say goodbye to him and it’s awful imagining what he might have gone through as the fire happened.

“We shared a happy childhood together but when he was an adult circumstances meant that Robin’s life got to be an ordeal for him. He enjoyed his carpentry, drawing, films, television, cigarettes and his drink, from which we did everything we could to keep him safe.

“We will never get over Robin’s awful death, we have regrets for the life that could have been. We continue to love him and will miss him always.

“We knew that Robin was vulnerable due to his drinking but we never considered him to be at risk from a fire. Although he was an alcoholic he was still a human and like anyone else he had needs, we all loved him dearly.

“Anything that can help prevent someone else going through the heartache that we have been through has got to be welcomed, so I support the Service’s SAME campaign which aims to raise awareness of the factors that increase your risk of dying in a fire.

“I’d urge anyone who has family who are affected by any of these factors to contact the Service for advice – making that call could save their life.”

Brian Griffiths, Head of the Emergency Response Team, said: “This was a tragic incident which resulted in Robin losing his life and left his family devastated.

“Robin’s lifestyle meant that his flat contained multiple fire hazards – he smoked and had removed the protective grill from his gas fire then pushed his sofa up way too close to it exposing it to the heat. The fire investigation was very difficult as the damage was so severe but it is likely that the source of the fire was either the gas or discarded smoking materials.

“Unfortunately those that are vulnerable don’t always realise they’re at risk and so we need their friends, relatives and neighbours to help make sure they are safe from fire in their homes – a quick five minute phone call to us and we can give personalised advice and where appropriate arrange to carry out a Safe and Well visit.

“The SAME campaign really reaches out to these people and their loved ones. We’re determined to do all we can to prevent fires and we are calling on the community to help us in our bid to do this.”

For more information on the SAME campaign or for fire safety advice click here or contact the Community Advice Team on 0800 0241 999.