A DEVASTATED family say they owe their lives to their smoke alarm after a blaze ripped through the upstairs of their home, destroying much of their house.
Martin Plura, his wife Debbie, and their teenage son Tom were relaxing downstairs in their terraced house in Myrtle Road, Heeley, Sheffield, when a smoke alarm on their landing was triggered.
With the alarm screeching Debbie, 50, dialled 999, while Martin, 54, and Tom, 18, ran upstairs to investigate - and discovered fire crackling through the attic bedroom.
By the time fire crews from Central and Darnall stations arrived minutes later, fierce flames had started shooting up through the roof.
NHS worker Martin, who is employed at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, told The Star the family owe their lives to the smoke alarms which had been fitted free throughout their home by the fire service.
Martin said: “We have been extremely lucky.
“Yes, the house is ruined, and the attic is completely gutted, but all of us are thankfully okay - including Amber, our dog, who we carried outside.”
He added: “Who knows what may have happened if the fire service had not fitted those alarms? I’m just so very pleased that they did.”
Martin, Debbie, Tom and their 14-year-old Labrador Amber made their way outside to safety while waiting for firefighters to arrive.
Crews managed to extinguish the blaze but the flames and smoke caused substantial damage to the attic bedroom and damage throughout the rest of the house.
Watch manager Steve Womack, from Central station, said: “The family had a smoke alarm that we’d fitted, and this meant they were able to get out safely.
“The fire began close to a mattress so it took hold very quickly and soon started to come through the roof.”
The blaze, just after 10.30pm on Thursday, is believed to have started accidentally.
The family’s smoke alarms had been fitted by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service as part of its programme of free Home Safety Checks and free smoke alarms to people throughout South Yorkshire.
Firefighters give advice on how to make a home safer, what to do in the event of a fire, and what to do if you are trapped by a fire.
They will also fit a smoke alarm free if a house is without one, and explain how to maintain it correctly.
Top 10 tips to make your home safe
• Fit a smoke alarm and check it regularly. Firefighters recommend checking it weekly.
• Make a fire action plan so everyone in your house knows how to escape in the event of fire.
• Take care when cooking with hot oil and think about using thermostatically-controlled deep fat fryers.
• Never leave lit candles unattended.
• Ensure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully.
• Never smoke in bed.
• Keep matches and lighters away from children.
• Keep clothing away from heating appliances.
• Take care in the kitchen. Accidents while cooking account for 59 per cent of fires in the home.
• Take special care when you are tired or have been drinking. Half of all deaths in domestic fires happen between 10pm and 8am.