MFRS warns of the dangers of smoking following fatal fire in Southport

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is warning of the dangers of smoking in the home following the tragic death of a woman in a fire in Southport at the weekend.

The fire occurred at a flat on the Promenade on the morning of Sunday 26th April. Crews were alerted at 5.10am and on scene at 5.14am, arriving within four minutes. Sadly, firefighters found the body of a 62-year-old woman in a flat on the ground floor.

A joint investigation between MFRS and Merseyside Police has been carried out and determined the fire started in the living room of the flat. Initial investigations indicate the fire was accidental and caused by a cigarette. No one else was injured in the incident.

Firefighters and prevention staff from MFRS will now go out into the community around the Promenade to reassure residents, leafleting properties and offering vital fire safety advice on the doorstep.

Mark Thomas, Group Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “This was a tragic incident and, as with every house fire, one which could have been avoided. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the lady at this time.

“We would urge residents across Merseyside to ensure that they have smoke alarms installed in their homes – at least one on every level – and that they are tested regularly. We would also like to make a plea to smokers to make sure they are aware of the dangers that smoking in the home can cause.

“Initially, it appears that the incident was as a result of a cigarette. In 2019, 10.5% of all accidental house fires in Merseyside were smoking related and in fact, smoking remains the biggest killer in accidental home fires nationally.

“We understand that times are difficult and members of our community are spending much more time in the home now as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 measures. Now, more than ever, we all need to work together to keep each other safe and this includes practicing fire safety in the home.

“If you do smoke, please make sure you do so safely. Never smoke in bed and take extra care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight – and please do not smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And remember, make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished – put it out, right out.”

These simple steps can help prevent cigarette and e-cigarette fires in the home:

• Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight.

• Never smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape.

• Put it Out, Right Out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.

• Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down.

• Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn. Never use a wastepaper basket to dispose of a cigarette butt.

• Keep matches out of children’s reach.

• Never leave e-cigarettes on charge unattended for long periods of time.

• Do not mix components of different e-cigarettes.

• Only use the charger supplied with your device.

• Ensure you purchase your e-cigarette and charger from a reputable source and check the e-cigarette carries CE certification.

• Fit a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it weekly. Working smoke alarms can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.

• Consider installing additional smoke alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas.