Fatal fire prompts public plea from chiefs

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LOTHIAN and Borders Police Fire chiefs are urging the public to make sure they know what to do if they suspect a fire has broken out.

The plea comes after a 38-year-old woman died following a fire in Edinburgh on Thursday, October 25.

Deputy Assistant Chief Officer John Dickie, commented: “One of the things we have become aware of recently in responding to serious fires is that often people who suspect fire may delay in calling the emergency services.

“This can be for a variety of reasons. Anxiety about dialling 999 when they don’t know all the facts. A feeling they should investigate further before raising the alarm or a general lack of clarity about what steps to take first.

“We understand that in an emergency situation it can be quite daunting to be responsible for deciding what to do. But the key thing you should do is, if you suspect fire, call 999.

“You will be put through to highly experienced and professional fire and rescue service call handlers. They will be able to mobilise fire appliances to the incident as they take details from you. They will also give you advice about your own personal safety depending on the circumstances.

“In most cases that will be to get out of the danger area and stay out until emergency services arrive or tell you it is safe to go back in. In some cases if people are trapped by thick smoke it is safer to stay where they are, preferably near to an open window. Control Room staff will give you fire survival guidance and direct firefighters to your location so that you can be rescued.

“Paramount in all of this is that we know there is a potential emergency. This is something we rely on the public for.

“If you hear a ringing smoke alarm, smell smoke, perhaps hear unusual sounds like crackling which could be from a fire you should call 999 immediately.

“We will never judge anyone who does that in good faith even if the call turns out to be a false alarm. We would rather attend and have the opportunity to check that all is well than be alerted at a later stage when our fire crews may be faced with a much more serious and well developed fire which makes effecting a rescue much more challenging.

“We can not do what we do as successfully without the help of the public. They are often the first to notice when something is wrong and play a vital part in alerting us to emergencies.

“Making sure you know what you would do in an emergency now could be the difference between life and death in the future.”