KITCHEN SAFETY WARNING FOLLOWING A SERIES OF FATAL INCIDENTS
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is warning of the dangers of leaving cooking unattended following their attendance at a number of unrelated incidents over the last month that have sadly resulted in the deaths of four people.
MFRS crews have been called to four separate addresses across Merseyside between 24th November and 23rd December. Each incident has sadly resulted in a fatality.
In each of the four incidents, there had been a fire in the kitchen. All are believed to have been slow, smouldering fires, with no fire present when firefighters arrived – leading MFRS to believe they had burned for some time before being discovered.
The first incident occurred in Barnfield Drive, West Derby, and resulted in the death of a 54-year-old man. Merseyside Police had been called to the property on the morning of Thursday 24th November following concerns for safety of the occupier. On gaining entry to the flat, police officers found it to be heavily sooted and located the body of the man inside.
Initial investigations into the cause of the fire determined it started accidentally as a result of cooking being left unattended. Further investigations are underway to determine the exact time of the fire, although it is believed to have happened on Monday 21st November.
The second incident took place in Tranmere on Monday 19th December. MFRS was called to the house after it was reported that windows to the property appeared sooted. On arrival, crews found the body of a 66-year-old man. An investigation into the cause of the fire determined in started accidentally as a result of combustible materials being in close proximity to a lit gas hob.
The third and fourth fatality occurred in two separate incidents on Friday 23rd December.
MFRS crews were called to Elm Avenue, Ashton-in-Makerfield shortly after 2pm. Three fire engines from MFRS attended, with additional support from Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service.
The fire had burnt itself out prior to the arrival of crews and sadly, during their search of the property, firefighters discovered the body of a 70-year-old man. A joint investigation into the cause of the fire determined it started accidentally as a result of a chip pan being left unattended.
Later the same day, shortly before 8.30pm, fire crews were called to Belvidere Road, Toxteth. The fire was again out on arrival but during their search of the property, firefighters discovered the body of 64-year-old man. An investigation into the cause of this fire has determined that it too was caused by a pan of food being left unattended in the kitchen.
Following each of these tragic events, firefighters and MFRS prevention staff will visit the areas surrounding the incidents to provide vital fire safety advice and complete home fire safety checks as part of a reassurance campaign on Friday, 30th December.
Mark Thomas, Area Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “Our thoughts are very much with the family, friends and loved ones of those who have died and we are mindful of the impact that each of these tragic incidents will have on the local community, particularly at this time of the year. Investigations have been carried out into all four of these incidents and all are believed to have started as a result of cooking being left unattended.
AM Thomas added: “Because of the nature of each incident, we are asking people to be extra careful when cooking, particularly if you live alone. If you need to leave the kitchen for any reason, turn off the heat until you return. Avoid cooking when you are not in a fully alert state of mind. If you have vulnerable friends, neighbours or relatives, offer them help and support to help them stay safe.”
As well as offering advice around safe cooking during Friday’s campaign, firefighters and prevention teams will be highlighting the importance of having working smoke alarms and the importance of taking quick action if you hear one.
AM Thomas added: “Initial investigations indicate that the smoke alarm sounded in a number of these incidents, although sadly they were not heard so the fire remained undetected.
“We would urge everyone to ensure that smoke alarms are installed and are tested regularly, but just as importantly, we would urge you to never ignore a smoke alarm. If your smoke alarm sounds and you believe there is a fire, get out, stay out and call 999 immediately. Don’t attempt to tackle the fire yourself.
“If you hear a smoke alarm go off in a neighbour’s property, check it out and if you suspect a fire, call 999 immediately – those vital few seconds could help save a life. Don’t try to enter the property as you could end up in difficulty yourself – call 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service.”
TOP TIPS TO KEEP SAFE FROM FIRE
- Smoke alarms – smoke alarms save lives but only if they’re working and in the right place. You should have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Consider installing additional alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas. Don't put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam could set them off accidentally. Never take the batteries out of your smoke alarm to put into another electrical device.
- Cooking – make it a priority to keep cooking areas clear & clean from combustible materials. Make sure your oven and grill are clean – a build-up of fat or grease can cause a fire. Don't leave pans unattended while cooking and never leave children or pets unattended in the kitchen.
- Heaters – keep heaters well away from clothes, curtains, furniture and other flammable materials. Never use heaters to dry clothes. Always switch off and unplug your heaters before going to bed.
- Smoking – Please try not to smoke. Smoking is bad for your health and causes more death from accidental fires than any other cause. If you must smoke, use a proper ashtray and make sure it is placed on a level surface away from combustible materials. Make sure your cigarettes are fully extinguished. Never smoke in bed – you could easily fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and cause a fire.
- Candles – keep candles and tea lights away from anything that can catch fire. Never leave lit candles unattended – make sure they are fully extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed. Consider using LED battery-operated candles instead.
- Electrical items – check your electrical appliances are in good working order. If the wires are damaged or frayed, do no not use them. Avoid charging items like mobile phones, laptops or tablets overnight and only use the chargers that came with the device. Don’t overload your plug sockets.
- Escape routes – make sure everyone in your household knows how to get out in the event of a fire. Ensure your escape routes are clear from any clutter. Keep your external door and window keys in a known and accessible place and close internal doors.
- Look after elderly and more vulnerable relatives and neighbours. Check they are well, have working smoke alarms and know what to do in the event of a fire.
IN AN EMERGENCY, CALL 999 IMMEDIATELY. In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.
For fire safety advice, or if you do not have working smoke alarms in your home, please call 0800 731 5958.