Page 5 - HOT NEWS MARCH 2014
P. 5
Bed Warming Warning
Group Manager Paul Murphy, front centre, holds an example of a wheat bag on the day that 400 properties were visited during the fire safety campaign. He is standing with Wirral District Prevention Manager Jen Welsh to his right and Station Manager Steve Gadsdon on his left and firefighters at Wallasey Community Fire Station. Photo: Lyndsay Young
More than 400 properties were visited in just one day during a campaign to raise awareness about fire safety in Wirral.
The work followed a fire at a property where, sadly, an elderly woman’s body was discovered by firefighters in Village Way, Wallasey, in February.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing but, at this stage, it is thought the cause was an overheated microwavable wheat bag used to warm the bed.
“It appears the lady in this case may have used a wheat bag as a source of heating and warming up her bed. Wheat bags heated in microwave ovens are a well known way of helping bring relief to aching joints and muscles - but they must be used with care.
“A product that absorbs and stores heat in this way is a potential fire risk if not used properly. For this reason it is vital to follow manufacturers’ instructions to avoid possible injury.
“If these products are used incorrectly they can be dangerous and we are urging people to follow advice on their use to reduce the risk of a fire occurring.”
Our Service was called at 4.30am to Village Way, Wallasey, on Sunday, February 9, and three fire appliances attended. Firefighters used two main jets to extinguish the fire.
Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the property to conduct a search and tackled the fire.
The Incident Investigation Team will carry out “test burns” at the Training and Development Academy as part of their investigation to check the potential cause of the fire.
For free fire safety advice call 0800 731 5958 or go to
• Watch for signs of overuse, such as a smell of burning or charring.
• Leave bags to cool in a safe area and on a noncombustible surface like a kitchen sink.
• Use a wheat bag as a bed-warmer.
• Overheat the bag.
• Reheat the bag until it has completely cooled – which may take up to two hours.
• Leave the microwave oven unattended when heating.
• Put the bag away for storage until it has cooled. • Use the bag if you see evidence of problems.
The potential cause was highlighted as firefighters and community fire prevention staff visited 450 homes and completed 170 Home Fire Safety Checks.
The fire safety campaign involved nine fire appliances and 25 community fire prevention staff visiting roads in and around Village Way, Wallasey.
Smoke alarms were present in the property and alerted neighbours to the fire.
Group Manager Paul Murphy, district manager for Wirral, said: “Our Incident Investigation Team believe that the most likely cause of this fire was as a result of the occupier overheating a wheat bag and placing it in her bed which has consequently led to a smouldering fire. This hypothesis fits with the burn pattern of the fire at the property.
Wheat bags bought in shops have manufacturers’ instructions which recommend maximum heating times. Home-made bags can pose a greater risk because the type of wheat may be unknown and there are no manufacturers’ instructions to follow. If a bag is kept insulated after heating - for example, under bedclothes - it may ignite.
• Buy wheat bags with clear heating instructions from the manufacturer, and follow them.
• Buy bags which include manufacturers’ contact details if you have a problem.
• Only use as a heat pack for direct application to the body.
• Ensure your microwave turntable is working properly.

   3   4   5   6   7