National Fire Safety Week was officially launched today at Central Fire Station, Bankmore Street, Belfast BT7 1AQ on Monday 2nd October 2017 at 10:30am.

National Fire Safety Week, 2nd – 9th October, jointly run with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, is about enhancing fire safety, particularly in the home. This year’s National Fire Safety Week theme is “What can you do to STOP fire?” The campaign is used to raise awareness of the biggest causes of accidental fires and the practical steps we can all take to prevent them.

Tragically, on average, 36 people die in Ireland each year as a result of fire. House fires account for the vast majority of fire fatalities. Both the very young and the elderly are particularly vulnerable and these groups account for almost half of the domestic fatalities. As there are still homes with no smoke alarms, public awareness must be maintained regarding the need to install smoke alarms. Most people who die in fires, die from smile inhalation and not from burns and it can take as little as 3 minutes to die from smoke inhalation. All family members, relatives and friends of the vulnerable are asked to ensure they are protected against the risk of fire.

Speaking at the event, Chief Fire Officer Eamon Woulfe of Louth Fire Service said “Speaking and listening to people over the years, I have found there are some who are very conscious of the prospect of fire and the destruction it brings and others, who for whatever reason, feel it will never happen to them.  However, as everyone here knows too well, the threat of fire isn’t selective – it can happen to anyone at any time.  And so, knowing this, it is in effect our responsibility to arm the public with the information they require to protect themselves and those for whom they are responsible”.

Mr Woulfe went on to say “The fire safety messages remain the same… These messages cannot be repeated enough. Every death is one too many, and in many cases it is preventable.   In 2016, our Fire Authorities responded to fatal fires which claimed the lives of 20 people – 16 men and 4 women.  Of this number 50% were over 65 – the age group most vulnerable to fire and 80% were men.  These statistics are not just particular to our jurisdiction; they reflect a more general trend which clearly indicates that the older population is more vulnerable to fire.  So far in 2017, the unofficial figure for fire fatalities is 24, with 54% of those who have died over the age of 65”.

While National Fire Safety Week marks the beginning of an intensive media advertising campaign to run until the Spring, it is imperative that public awareness of the dangers of fire be maintained throughout the year.