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Home fires across NI increase by 50% during Covid-19 pandemic

The number of accidental fires in the home has increased by 50% compared to the same time last year.

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has released statistics that show that there were 101 accidental fires in the home from March 2, 2020 until 5 April 2020.

During the same period in 2019 there were 68 accidental fires in the home, meaning there has been a 49% increase this year.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the community has spent the majority of the month of March in their homes, and cooking; electrical incidents; and candles or matches have been the main causes of fire during this time.

There has been an increase of 33% in the number of cooking appliance related fires in March 2020, compared to March 2019, and electricity supply related and smoking related fires have also more than doubled during this time period.

The number of casualties at accidental fires in the home has also increased by 48% during this time.

Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Alan Walmsley, NIFRS, said: “We fully support the Northern Ireland Executive’s advice to stay at home in order to beat COVID-19. As the community is spending most of their time indoors, there has been a sharp increase in the number of accidental fires in the home.

“Last week we warned that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to significant pressures on us, including a reduction in the number of frontline Firefighters available for emergency response. We have made changes to how we deliver our service to help ease the impact of the pandemic on Firefighter availability and our ability to respond to emergencies, including redeploying personnel; reverting certain Stations to On-Call; and amalgamating some other Stations, to ensure reliable cover.

“The stark rise in accidental house fires last month, coupled with the pressures NIFRS is currently under due to the pandemic, means that we are calling on the community to make themselves aware of the potential causes of fire in the home – if you’re cooking more, make sure you’re not leaving it unattended; when using electrical devices, make sure to not overload your plug sockets; if using candles, make sure they are out fully before going to bed; never smoke in bed; and always make sure when you’re putting a cigarette out, that it is fully out.

“Also, if you know someone who is older, or could be more at risk from fire at this time, please consider their fire safety too- check in with them and talk about the potential fire risks in their home. Ensure they have a working smoke alarm. If you’re concerned, please pass their details on to us, and we can check in with them to make sure they are keeping themselves safe from fire.

“We have changed the way we are carrying out Home Fire Safety Checks – we have replaced our regular “face to face” Home Fire Safety checks with an over the phone service. By phoning 02892664221, and providing the relevant details, you will be contacted by a member of our Prevention and Protection Team who will discuss your queries and circumstances, and provide fire safety advice.

“Last year 3 people tragically lost their lives due to an accidental fire in the home. This is the lowest ever achieved within NIFRS, due to the hard work of our personnel and our partner agencies, who have worked collaboratively to drive down community risk across Northern Ireland.

“One life lost is still one to many, and our goal is for there to be no deaths caused by accidental fires in the home, especially at this difficult time.”

“We need to work together we can get through this- Support us, Save Lives, Fight Back.”

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