‘Look out for the elderly’ – Firefighters launch campaign following fatal house fires in Sheffield

Find the time to look out for elderly relatives and neighbours – that’s the message from firefighters following a series of house fires which have seen pensioners killed across Sheffield.

Thursday, 28th March 2019, 11:03 am
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 1:54 pm
A man died in a house fire on New Cross Drive, Woodhouse on March 15. Picture: Steve Ellis

The Star is backing a campaign by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and firefighters across the country to encourage people to carry out a ‘grandparent check’.

It comes after a pensioner died in a house fire in Woodhouse on March 15 and statistics revealed that over half of those killed in accidental house fires across South Yorkshire since 2013 were aged 60 or above.

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Steve Helps of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Chris Etchells

Steve Helps, area manager and head of the joint police and fire community safety department, said: “The motivation behind this campaign is really simple – in the last six weeks we’ve had a number of fire deaths that have involved people over 60-years-old.

“On their own these incidents are really tragic and when put alongside figures from our recent history we can see, quite clearly, that as people get older their fire risk increases.

“This is due to a range of factors – be it living alone, having limited mobility or a hearing impairment or taking medication that causes drowsiness – that can make older people more likely to have a fire and less able to escape.”

Mr Helps said there were ‘simple checks’ which relatives and neighbours can do to help make sure people’s homes were safe.

Known as the ‘grandparent check’, firefighters are asking people to make sure homes have working smoke alarms and helping residents to de-clutter their homes.

Mr Helps said: “We know that around Easter time people are more likely to visit relative so we just want people to be thinking whether homes are safe.

“There are some really simple things that can be done. What we are asking is that, first and foremost, people check they have got working smoke alarms. What we tend to find is that people who are vulnerable can’t test them, simply because they might not be able to test it.”

Mr Helps also asked for people to speak to their neighbours and residents about smoking safely and decluttering their homes to ensure there was always a clear route out.

He added: “Anyone that feels as if they could benefit from further assistance because of a particular vulnerability then they can contact the fire service and we will come and see them and do a home check.

“The other part of the campaign is working with our partners to identify any risks. These are people who are in homes every day – community nurses, meals on wheels – we are wanting them to consider the environment they work in to identify any risks.”

Mr Helps said firefighters also worked with schoolchildren to teach them about fire safety with more than 15,000 Year 6 pupils taught at the interactive learning Lifewise Centre in Hellaby.

It also carries out 20,000 home checks every year.

For more information on fire safety or to book a home check visiti www.syfire.gov.uk or call 0114 272 7202.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Make sure elderly residents have working smoke alarms Do they smoke? If so, ensure they’ve got a proper ash tray Get them a working phone that stays with them all the time Speak to them about what to do in the event of a fire Help them de-clutter, particularly their exit routes