Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS) are warning residents about the dangers of discarded cigarettes after attending several serious fires in the county where cigarettes which were thought to be out, set fire to the property.
The first serious incident occurred on Friday 31 January at a residential care facility in Exhall. A fire started in a ground floor flat and is believed to have been caused by the disposal of cigarette ends in a plastic bin. A male occupant was rescued by WFRS firefighters and there were multiple other evacuations of elderly residents from other flats. Thankfully, occupants were alerted to the fire by the smoke alarm system, so there were no serious injuries.
Just the following day another incident occurred on Abbey Street in Nuneaton where a fire started in the living room of a third floor residential flat. There were five people asleep in the property at the time and they were woken by the activation of a smoke alarm. Following a fire investigation, it is believed that the most likely cause of the fire was a discarded cigarette end. Luckily, all occupants were able to evacuate safely thanks to their working smoke alarms.
Chief Fire Officer at Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Kieran Amos, said:
“If you are a smoker, make sure you dispose of cigarettes safely by using an ashtray or soaking cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never put hot cigarette butts in a bin and avoid smoking in bed, especially if you’re feeling drowsy or falling asleep.
“These recent incidents demonstrate again that it is vitally important that everyone has a working smoke alarm on every level of their home. This will give you the early detection you need to get out, stay out and call 999.”
WFRS advise that smoke detectors are best installed in hallways and landings and they should also be placed near to sleeping areas and in rooms where there are electrical appliances. If you don’t have enough smoke alarms, or they’re not in the right place, you might not be alerted in time.
If you don’t know what you would do if you heard your smoke alarm sounding while you and your loved ones are asleep, then it’s also time to plan your escape route. Once a smoke alarm sounds you only have a few minutes to get out safely, so WFRS would like to highlight the importance of knowing your escape route. An escape plan should include two exits from each room in your home, these may be doors or windows.
Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Fire and Rescue and Community Safety, added:
“We hope that sharing the details and causes of these fires will encourage the community to improve or change their fire safety habits – it’s easy to put off the simplest of tasks but it takes just moments to take actions like testing a smoke alarm!
“WFRS are here to keep you and your loved ones safe, so take action now and make sure that you have working smoke alarms and a planned escape route. A working smoke alarm could give you those precious few extra minutes to escape safely with your loved ones in the event of a fire, as we have seen with both of these incidents.
“Remember, once you have escaped, never go back inside a burning building, our firefighters are equipped to go inside, but you’re not.
“If you are unable to check or install smoke alarms yourself or you’re not sure how many smoke alarms you need, then you can apply for a Safe and Well visit – a free service offered by WFRS to help you stay safe and reduce the risk of fire in your home.”