Firefighters have expressed their disappointment at what they describe as a poor poor public response to safety campaigning launched in the wake of a fatal house fire in Newcastle.
Shock statistics revealed this week show a near 100 per cent increase in accidental dwelling fires in Newcastle from December 2009 to January 2010.
"Do the right thing and book a life-saving Home Fire Risk Check, it could be the best decision you ever make.”
Mick Daniels, Assistant Area Commander, Newcastle
Following the death of a 79-year-old woman at her home in Sparch Avenue on January 26th crews immediately began visiting hundreds of homes in the community to deliver fire safety information and speak to residents about booking a FREE Home Fire Risk Check.
But almost a month later, only six residents in the area have contacted the Service to arrange a visit.
Assistant Area Commander for Newcastle, Mick Daniels, said: "With what happened in Sparch Avenue, I have to be honest and say we were expecting a much better response than this.
"I've always said fire safety has a lot to do with attitude and behaviour. We would like people to take responsibility for their safety but know we can help them.
"A Home Fire Risk Check costs absolutely nothing but can save lives. We can arrange a time to attend which is convenient for you. There's no need to take risks. Life is much too precious. Do the right thing and book a Home Fire Risk Check, it could be the best decision you ever make."
Mick added Newcastle suffered 11 accidental dwelling fires in January compared to six the previous month. More than half of these homes either did not have a smoke alarm fitted or had an alarm which did not work.
"This raises a real concern over ownership and maintenance of smoke alarms and how it is essential you have one fitted in your home," he said.
Following the incident on January 26th fire crews visited streets in fire dwelling hotspots Wolstanton and Porthill.
These included Southlands Avenue, Fairfield Avenue, St John’s Avenue, Sparch Hollow and Sparch Avenue. Cards detailing the Service's Freephone number, used to arrange Home Fire Risk Checks were distributed to 200 homes while posters carrying similar information were given to shops and businesses for display.
Firefighters also spoke to members and guests attending the Annual General Meeting of Newcastle's 50 Plus Forum. Such campaigning supports the Service's Young at Heart, Safe at Home campaign, which launched in October. The initiative intends to raise awareness of fire safety among the elderly and those who care for them. The campaign is driven by statistics which 84 per cent of the fire deaths suffered in Staffordshire since 2007 have involved people aged 65 and over.
"A Home Fire Risk Check involves us visiting homes to fit, where necessary, equipment like smoke alarms which will increase people's safety and saves lives," added Mick. The FREEPHONE number to ring to request a check is 0800 0241 999. callers can arrange a mutually convenient time for the visit to take place. All firefighters and Service Technicians carry an I.D card and travel in Service vehicles. Although checks to the elderly and vulnerable are prioritised, the service is open to everyone.