Picture is copyright of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.
CUMBERNAULD and West of Scotland residents are three times less likely to suffer the devastating consequences of fire than they were when Strathclyde Fire Brigade was formed in 1975, but the drive to make communities safer must continue, the current Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service has declared.
Brian Sweeney, the Chief Officer of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, made the call as the Service prepared the become part of the national fire service on 1st April.
Mr Sweeney said: “As we approach the start of the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service it is important to take stock of where we are and to consider just how far we have come over the last 38 years.
“Back when Strathclyde Fire Brigade first began in the 1970s we were regularly seeing more than 7,000 devastating house fires each year, with a death toll often exceeding 100.
“The decades since have seen a huge drop and we now report closer to 2,000 fires in the home, and during 2012 there were just 14 fatalities. Comparing the statistics reveals that in the 1970s and early 1980s, members of the public were three times more likely to have a house fire and suffer the consequences or worse still were almost 8 or 9 times more likely to die in the blaze.
“The fact is we have never been safer, but as the recent tragedies this Christmas proves, we must always be aware of the dangers of fire. Every fire death is one too many. In 10 years’ time nobody in the West of Scotland should be dying in a fire. We will continue our efforts and, with the help of the media and the public, will work relentlessly in the fight against fire.”
Four people lost their lives in house fires over the festive period, despite a massive campaign to raise awareness of the risks. Serving firefighters shared their experiences of responding to fatal fires and urged members of the public to take positive steps to prevent tragedy striking their communities.
A partnership between the Fire Service, the public and the press has been a central pillar of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue’s success in cutting the numbers of fires and fire deaths. Chief Officer Sweeney thanked partners and the public for their help and urged their continued participation in the fight against fire.
He added: “It is clear that people in the West of Scotland have never been safer. Strathclyde Fire & Rescue was one of the first in the UK to provide heat alarms as part of the Home Fire Safety Visit initiative. Our relentless efforts to educate the public about the dangers of fire have helped make our communities safe places to live, work and visit.”
“Home Fire Safety Visits were unheard of when I took up my post – in recent years we have delivered over 96,000 of them – that’s almost 100,000 homes better protected with smoke alarms and fire escape plans. It was particularly pleasing that this festive period, thousands of householders joined the ‘fight against fire’ and contacted Strathclyde Fire & Rescue directly to arrange their free Home Fire Safety Visit.
“Evidence confirms that a number of people called on behalf of family members, friends or neighbours they suspected of being at risk from fire. I would thank all those individuals for taking this important step and of course the media who have been a powerful partner and enabled us to communicate this message to those most at risk.
“I am also hugely grateful to colleagues from partner organisations, such as housing, social work and the third sector, who regularly refer their clients for Home Fire Safety Visit. Of course none of this would be possible without our own staff, who work tirelessly throughout the year to improve home safety levels and make communities safer.”
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