skip to content

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Safe and Well visit leads to fresh start for Burslem man

25/05/2017

Hallway before and after
Hallway before and after

The home of a vulnerable man who received a Safe and Well visit has been transformed to reduce the chances of a fire happening.

“The startling photographs show just how hazardous this man’s home was before the clean-up and how much the risk of a fire has been reduced since. Most importantly his living conditions and quality of life have greatly improved."

Donna Broadhead, Northern Prevent Manager

Safe and Well visits are just one form of fire prevention work undertaken by fire service staff on a daily basis. They are particularly important in preventing fires at the homes of those who are affected by one or more of the following factors: smoking, alcohol, mobility and elderly.

The Service’s ongoing SAME campaign aims to highlight that being affected by any of these factors increases your risk of dying in a house fire.

Earlier this year crews from Sandyford carried out a Safe and Well visit at a man’s home in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, and what they found gave them great concern for his wellbeing.

Lounge before and after

Every room was cluttered with discarded papers and personal possessions, including the hallway, making access very difficult and presenting trip hazards for the man. They quickly realised that he was struggling to cope and couldn’t keep his home tidy due to severe mobility issues.

The man, aged 47, suffers with a form of muscular dystrophy which began in his early twenties and due to this he has very poor mobility. This means he struggles with daily tasks and is in need of support. However, the inaccessibility of his home meant it wasn’t suitable for a carer to help him safely.

After being made aware of the crew’s concerns the Service’s Northern Prevent Team arranged to revisit the man with his social worker to look at ways of improving his safety.

Among the hazards were numerous papers and tea towels covering the cooker hob, which the man said he used occasionally to cook.

Kitchen before and after

Fortunately, the home already had two working smoke alarms but a further smoke alarm and a heat alarm were installed in the kitchen to give further protection.

The Service worked with the man, his family and partners to secure funding for the property to be cleared of clutter.

In May 2017 the man’s home underwent a huge transformation. He agreed that most of the clutter could be thrown away as he wanted a fresh start and understood how important this step was to his overall safety and wellbeing. This greatly reduced the fire risks and made the property accessible so he can now receive the help he so desperately needs.

Donna Broadhead, Northern Prevent Manager, said: “We often take for granted the everyday activities we do without a second thought. However, for someone with a debilitating condition these tasks are simply impossible and without help things can quickly escalate.

“The startling photographs show just how hazardous this man’s home was before the clean-up and how much the risk of a fire has been reduced since. Most importantly his living conditions and quality of life have greatly improved.

Bathroom before and after

“With ongoing support from partner agencies the man will hopefully be able to maintain a clutter free home to prevent the fire risks returning. The Service will keep in touch with him and carry out regular follow-up visits to check that he is coping ok.”

Safe and Well visits are tailored towards individuals needs and may include help and advice on fire safety such as cooking, electrical equipment, escape routes, night time routine and smoke alarm testing. Fire service staff help residents understand potential fire hazards around the home but also talk to them about mobility issues, falls and frailty, physical health issues, hoarding, safe heating, insulation, social isolation and loneliness, home security, employment, mental health, wellbeing and lifestyle behaviours.

Where appropriate referrals can be made to partner agencies to make sure the person has access to the right help.