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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Firefighter speaks out about the impact of fatal fires

26/5/2017


A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Fire Investigator has spoken of the devastating impact a fatal incident can have on the crew.

“I have attended these fires both as a crew member on the fire appliance and as a fire investigator. There are a lot of deaths that stick in your mind but I wouldn’t discuss them out of respect for their family members who may still find it very difficult to deal with the loss of their loved ones.”

Fire Investigation Officer Kelvin Knapper

Kelvin Knapper has been with the Service for 40 years, 25 as a Fire Investigation Officer, and has been to more than a hundred fatal incidents. This is why he is endorsing the Service’s new SAME campaign which aims to raise awareness of the four most common factors in fatal fires. These are Smoking, Alcohol, Mobility issues and Elderly people.

He said: “Over the years you do have to become hardened to it because otherwise it makes your job very difficult.

“Time and time again when I go into these fires I see the same things have caused them. That’s why I am supporting this campaign because a lot of these fires can be avoided.

“I have attended these fires both as a crew member on the fire appliance and as a fire investigator. There are a lot of deaths that stick in your mind but I wouldn’t discuss them out of respect for their family members who may still find it very difficult to deal with the loss of their loved ones.”

The SAME campaign is based on ten years of evidence which shows there have been 58 fatal fires in Staffordshire, 41 per cent of those people were smokers, 39 per cent were heavy drinkers, which played a part in the cause of the fire, 50 per cent had mobility issues and 73 per cent were aged 65 or over.

He added: “It is really important to make people aware that they could be at a greater risk of fire if they are affected by one or more of the four factors.

“Many of the fires I have been to in my 40 years could have been prevented so I would urge anyone who thinks they or a friend or family maybe affected by these factors contact us for advice and stay safe in their homes.”

For advice on fire safety please visit our website www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk or call our Community Advice Team on 0800 0241 999.