MFRS urges residents to check smoke alarms following fatal house fire in Bootle

Residents across Merseyside are being urged to make sure they have working smoke alarms and know what to do in the event of a fire following a tragic fatality in a house fire in Bootle.

The fire occurred at a house in Antonio Street on the evening of Wednesday 18th March. Despite an extremely fast response of only four minutes from fire crews, a 67-year-old man sadly lost his life in the fire.

A joint investigation between Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) and Merseyside Police has been carried out and determined the fire originated in the first floor bedroom of the property. It is believed the fire spread quickly due to the level of fire loading within the affected room. As a result of the severity of the fire and extensive damage caused to the property, investigators were unable to determine an exact cause but suspect the fire was caused by a candle or portable gas heater.

Firefighters and prevention staff from MFRS will now go out into the community around Antonio Street to reassure residents, provide fire safety advice, home fire safety checks, and install smoke alarms where required.

Mark Thomas, Group Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and community at this time. This is a terrible tragedy which should never happen and we would urge communities across Merseyside to ensure that smoke alarms are installed and are tested regularly.

“Make sure your escape routes are clear from any clutter and that everyone in your household knows what to do and how to get out of the property in the event of a fire. Keep your door and window keys in a known and accessible place.

“We understand that times are difficult and many members of our community will now be self-isolating as a result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, however we cannot stress the importance that if there is a fire – get out, stay out and call the fire service. Do not try to tackle the fire yourself, close the door of the room where the fire is if possible, get to a safe place and dial 999.

“If you hear a smoke alarm sounding in a neighbour’s home or simply walking past a house, dial 999 and ask for the fire & rescue service- we would much sooner go to a false alarm than a potentially serious fire.

“Finally, please be extremely careful if you are using candles in the home. Make sure you keep them away from anything that can catch fire – furniture, curtains, newspapers, books and never leave lit candles unattended. Consider using LED battery operated candles instead – they will reduce the risk of fire for everyone in your home.

“Using unsafe heating methods can often lead to a fire starting in your property. If you are worried about the heating methods in your home, or in the homes of your loved ones, please call us on 0800 731 5958 for free fire safety advice.”

Tips for staying safe from fire in the home:

● Never leave lit candles unattended. Put burning candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re out completely at night.
● Place your candles carefully. Make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, bedding and books.
● Do not move candles once they are lit.
● Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare
● Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot, and dripping.
● Always put scented candles in a heat resistant holder. These candles are designed to liquefy when heated to maximise fragrance.
● Consider using LED battery operated candles instead. They give the same effect but are much safer. Be sure to only use LED candles and tealights where children and pets cannot access the battery inside.

● Ensure possessions are stored on stable surfaces and do not stack items to a height that they can become unstable – they could fall over and block your escape
● Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause fire to spread rapidly. Sort mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and recycle them on a regular basis.
● Do not place items on, or near to, heaters, lamps, or other electrical equipment.

● KEEP heaters away from curtains, furniture and other materials that may ignite
● NEVER dry clothes over a heater or open fire
● ALWAYS use fireguards with open fires and ensure you have your chimney swept regularly
● DON’T move the heater while it is turned on

● You should have AT LEAST ONE working smoke alarm on every level of the home
● Consider installing additional smoke alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas
● Avoid placing smoke alarms in bathrooms or kitchens where steam is likely to trigger false alarms. Heat alarms are better for these rooms.
● Test your smoke alarms EVERY WEEK
● Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years

● Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire should occur – practice your escape route.
● Make sure your door and window keys are in known and accessible place
● Keep escape routes clear from clutter and items that could block your path.