Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is backing a new campaign from Scotland’s firefighters calling on communities to help stop preventable deaths in house fires by making a five-minute phone call.
Make the Call is a hard-hitting appeal to carers, families and friends of those who are at risk of serious injury or even death because of an accidental fire in their home.
More than 20 smokers in Scotland who are over the age of 50 and also either live alone, have mobility issues or use medical oxygen were injured, some seriously, by such fires between January and April this year. Tragically, 12 of those people sadly passed away.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is now appealing to Cumbernauld citizens to help save lives by encouraging vulnerable neighbours, patients, friends and family members to make a simple call to request a free Home Fire Safety Visit or advice from Cumbernauld Fire Station during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
Stuart Stevens, Assistant Chief Officer at Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “These tragic deaths and the injuries suffered by others are often completely preventable.
“We investigate every fire that we attend to understand how the fire started and developed, how it could have been avoided and if it could have been prevented entirely.
“The answer is all too often yes, that fire could have been prevented, and that person would have avoided injury or sadly, death.
“But the greatest challenge for us has always been reaching the most vulnerable people in our communities to make sure they have the life-saving advice and support that they need.
“That is why we are issuing a nationwide call to action – if you know someone who is over 50 and smokes and lives alone, has mobility issues or uses medical oxygen – we need you to help us reach them.
“Make the call to us and we can ensure that the people who may be at risk get the fire safety advice and support that they need to help them stay safe in the home during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.”
The national campaign has been launched following a sharp increase in the number of people who have died following fires in homes across Scotland.
Many of the deaths could have been prevented if the individuals had been aware of and accessed guidance, advice and Home Fire Safety Visits available free of charge through Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Advice or a Home Fire Safety Visit can be facilitated through phoning the national helpline on 0800 731 999 or texting ‘fire’ to 80800 – a five-minute process which will see the caller receive a return call from their local fire station to offer information and guidance or, where appropriate, a physical visit. Stevens added:
“There has been a rise in the number of people who have died because of fires in the home and while such increases are not unprecedented, we must reach out now to prevent further tragedy.
“We are clearly seeing that the people who are at greatest risk may already be living alone or are isolated and we are not in touch with them.
“During lockdown there is a real opportunity to change that as so many people are already reaching out to neighbours and family to check on them and ensure they have shopping and supplies, particularly if that person is shielding.
“We know that they are at risk, but we don’t know who they are or where they are. You might, however, and you can put us in touch with them.
“If you are a concerned carer or family member then you can refer them to us on their behalf, so long as you have their consent before passing their details on.
“Call them, check in with them if you can, adhering to social distancing guidelines, and encourage them to seek our advice or ask if you can call us on their behalf – our staff are trained and equipped to offer the best advice possible.”
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had suspended its Home Fire Safety Visit initiative during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic to support virus suppression and protect communities and staff from the risk of infection.
However, following the launch of the Make the Call campaign, the organisation will carry out limited and targeted visits to those most at risk from fire in their homes. In respect of the risk of conducting Home Fire Safety Visits during lockdown, Stevens commented:
“We take the safety of our communities and crews very seriously, and have taken every precaution to ensure that our staff use the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when visiting homes and apply appropriate guidelines and procedures to ensure that they and members of the public in the house adhere to social distancing guidelines
“Each Home Fire Safety Visit will be subject to a risk assessment first and where a visit is not possible due to coronavirus guidelines or other reasons, we can offer tailored advice over the phone and guide a carer, family member or the person themselves through a virtual safety protocol.”
Further advice, information or support can be obtained by calling the national helpline on 0800 731 999 or texting ‘fire’ to 80800. Updates can also be obtained by visiting the campaign section on Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s website or following Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service intends to make more assets and resources available to communities in relation to home fire safety over the coming weeks.