Hailsham firefighters door-knocking to warn of accidental kitchen fires

Firefighter inspects the damage caused by an accidental kitchen fire. SUS-150126-115414001
Firefighter inspects the damage caused by an accidental kitchen fire. SUS-150126-115414001

Hailsham firefighters have been out and about telling people to take extra care in the kitchen following 26 accidental fires in the area since 2011.

Night time is particularly dangerous when people are tired or when residents become easily distracted by family commitments.

Fourteen fires started between 5.45pm and 12.15am, while 12 fires began between 8.38am and 4.42pm.

The majority of these incidents took place within single occupancy premises (20 incidents), five were in houses of multi-occupancy and one was in sheltered housing.

The causes of these fires can be split into the five categories: Twelve due to cooking, five due to combustible materials being too close to the heat source, six due to faulty appliances, two due to an accumulation of flammable material (eg. too much dirt/grease)and one was due to an electrical fault.

The cooker was the source of ignition for half of these incidents and potentially seven of these incidents could have been avoided, as they were a result of the occupant falling asleep.

Station Manager Mark Webb explains that their messages have been well received by the public. He said, “We are visiting around 400 homes in those areas that have experienced this type of accidental fire and, so far, the response has been extremely positive.

“Crews are promoting our Home Safety Visit service as well as offering kitchen safety advice which could potentially save lives.”

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would like to remind the public of the following safety information when cooking in the kitchen:

Take pans off the heat or turn the heat down if you’re called away from the cooker, eg by a phone call, take care if you’re wearing loose clothing, as it can catch fire easily and don’t cook if you have been drinking alcohol or taken prescription drugs - you may get drowsy or lose concentration.

Also, cooker and toaster fires can be prevented by turning saucepans so the handles don’t stick out over the edge of the hob or over another ring, double checking the cooker is off when you have finished cooking, making sure tea-towels aren’t hanging over the cooker and not putting oven gloves on top of a hot cooker.

Residents are also reminded to keep the oven, hob and grill clean, as built-up fat and bits of food can start a fire, and check that the toaster is clean and well away from curtains and empty the crumb tray regularly.

The East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is using this campaign as a reminder for residents to test their smoke alarms as people are at least four times as likely to die in a fire at home if they haven’t got a working smoke alarm.

Smoke alarms are the easiest way to be alerted to the danger of fire, giving people valuable time to escape. They are cheap, easy to get hold of and easy to fit.

There is lots of useful information about the importance of smoke alarms on the community safety pages of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service website.

To see if you are eligible for a Home Safety visit, call 0800 177 7069 or complete and return the Home Safety Request form at http://esfrs-news.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/hailsham-firefighters-tackle-accidental.html.