Risking lives – no smoke alarms at 75 fire call outs in Sunderland and Washington

Smoke alarm.
Smoke alarm.
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PEOPLE are still risking their lives by not having smoke alarms installed, new figures reveal.

Despite hard-hitting campaigns by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, scores of homes across Sunderland and Washington do not have the life-saving devices in place.

Information released to the Echo under the Freedom of Information Act by the fire service, shows that over the last two years, 75 call outs were to homes where a smoke alarm was not installed.

Firefighters attended fires at 38 Sunderland homes and nine in Washington without a smoke alarm across 2012/13.

Up to November 2013, firefighters were called to 21 homes which needed devices fitting in Sunderland and seven in Washington.

Information after November is not yet available because the fire service has introduced a new system for recording data.

Working smoke alarms have saved the lives of many residents across the area.

Station manager Steve Graham, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There is no doubt that a working smoke alarm can be the difference between life and death, giving you an early warning of fire and vital minutes to escape.

“Some people may think they’ll know if there is a fire in their house, even when they are asleep, however, they are often mistaken, as just two to three breaths of toxic smoke will affect your ability to breathe, a sensation similar to drowning, and can make you unconscious.

“If anyone reading this doesn’t have a smoke alarm, I would strongly urge them to do so. If you have got one, you need one on every level of your house, and you should check them at least monthly to ensure they work. They can be a life saver.”

The chances of dying in a house fire doubles when a smoke alarm is not fitted and a national Government Time to Test campaign urges people to fit a working smoke alarm. One couple did and can thank the smoke detector for saving their lives.

The 80-year-old man and his 79-year-old wife were lucky to escape with their lives after fire raged through their home earlier this month. They were inside their house in South View, South Hylton, when a blaze broke out in a cupboard under the stairs.

Alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm, the pensioners were able to quickly get out of their Gentoo home.

Firefighters from Sunderland Central and North Moor fire stations who tackled the blaze, believe the couple could have been killed or seriously injured if the smoke alarm had not been working.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service offers free home safety checks to people who are more vulnerable to having a fire.

The service has information on its website at www.twfire.gov.uk, or by calling 0800 0327777. Fire safety information is also available from community fire stations or on the brigade’s Facebook page.