THOUSANDS of homes are to be made safer as Gentoo staff are trained to be the eyes and ears of the fire service.
A partnership with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will see firefighters hand down basic fire safety training to Sunderland housing firm workers.
In the first of the courses, which took place at Sunderland West fire station in Washington, topics covered included kitchen fire safety, smoking safety advice – such as the importance of stubbing out cigarettes thoroughly and disposing of them safely in non-flammable bins – and advising people of the importance of having a fire escape plan.
The training also included identifying vulnerable people, and linking up with the fire service to offer them a fast-track referral for a free home safety check.
Station manager Gary Yates, said: “The majority of Gentoo homes are fitted with hardwired smoke alarms to give residents an early warning of fire, which is fantastic.
“But we want to prevent fires from happening in the first place, and this aim lies at the heart of this partnership.
“Ensuring that vulnerable members of our community are protected from fire is a top priority for our service, and working with organisations like Gentoo is an effective way of reaching as many of these people as possible through their existing links.
“Gentoo staff are in an excellent position to advise us of any fire safety concerns they may have about people they visit in their properties, and they can act as our ‘eyes and ears’ when they are out and about.
“There’s no doubt that the partnership will help make even more homes in the Sunderland safer from fire.”
Ian Porter, managing director of Gentoo Sunderland, added: “Gentoo is committed to making sure our customers feel safe and secure in their home.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
“Not only will staff now be able to identify fire risks in our homes, but educate our customers on the importance of fire safety.
“By using a referral mechanism for our most vulnerable customers, we hope to help reduce the number of preventable fires in our communities.”