Electrical appliances and electricity led to a total of 599 house fires in Northern Ireland alone over 2013, taking the lives of four people, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has said.
Furthermore, an additional 210 people suffered injuries and 73 people needed to be rescued by the emergency services as a result of these electrical home emergencies.
To bring these figures down, NIFRS is urging everyone in the country to take advantage of its free Home Fire Safety Check.
NIFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dale Ashford said: “Fire does not discriminate.” A house fire could affect “any one of us”, he pointed out.
Electrical appliances, which Mr Ashford called a “staple of modern life”, are common causes of these fires. Appliance breakdowns can lead to overheating and electric sparks, which can be all it takes for soft furnishings and flammable items to catch alight. The chief fire officer therefore recommended that people unplug appliances when they are not being used, keep electrical items clean, and ensure appliances are in good working order.
He explained that the majority of electrical house fires originate in kitchens, and advised people to take “extra care” when using cooking appliances and to never leave these appliances unattended.
Smoke alarms should be fitted in people’s property and checked every week, Mr Ashford stated. He said these devices alert people to fires at the “earliest stage”, giving them “vital time to escape” in home emergencies.
He also recommended that people develop a fire escape plan and ensure that everyone in their home knows what to do in the event of a fire.
People in Northern Ireland who wish to book a Home Fire Safety Check can do so by calling 028 92600477. These free checks see firefighters visiting people’s homes to offer bespoke fire safety advice, check appliances, recommend fire escape routes and even fit smoke alarms. Mr Ashford said these checks can “help you keep your loved ones safe”.
These comments came during Electrical Fire Safety Week, which runs from September 22nd to 28th.
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