Fire scheme launched days after Duns blaze

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JUst days before Lothian and Borders Fire Service launched a new campaign chiefed with reducing the number of accidental fires in homes throughout the region and following hot on the heels of an initiative highlighting the importance of smoke alarms, a group of Berwickshire residents were praised for their quick thinking which prevented a blaze at The Mount, Duns from having more tragic consequences.

A joint initiative between the Fire and Rescue Service and the providers of social housing in the Borders, including Berwickshire Housing Association, has been launched in a bid to cut the number of needless houses fires and associated risks to people in the area.

The plans were officially unveiled to the public at an event held in Galashiels on Tuesday, less than 72 hours after firefighters were required to come to the rescue of a man in Duns who was trapped in his house after a pan of food caught fire while he was sleeping.

Crews from Coldstream and Duns attended at the scene on Saturday, April 14, and the 43-year-old was lifted from the property by the firefighters and given oxygen.

He was treated by an ambulance team for smoke inhalation but declined any hospital treatment.

His neighbours were alerted to the blaze when they heard a smoke alarm sounding in the house and were praised by the fire brigade for their swift action, without which there may well have been a tragic end to the incident.

Group Commander Willie Allison told ‘The Berwickshire News’: “Without any doubt it was the efforts of the man’s neighbours which prevented the fire from being more serious.

“The man himself didn’t hear the smoke alarm going off so it’s just as well they did and quickly alerted the fire brigade.

“The large majority of fires are accidental and can be easily avoided. The new campaign will remind people of simple steps they can take such as emptying ashtrays before they go to bed; using only thermostat-controlled chip pans and not overloading sockets.”

The new arrangements unveiled earlier this week have been designed to ensure that new and existing tenants living in housing association properties can benefit from a free home safety visit carried out by a team of firefighters.

This visit will be offered by housing associations to new tenants through their tenant welcome packs with referrals then processed through local stations.

If appropriate, the respective housing association will be notified of any significant concerns from a home safety visit e.g. the identification of a ‘person at risk’ i.e. someone identified as being particularly vulnerable to the likelihood of an accidental fire.

In those cases, the person might receive a home fire safety referral and an enhanced home safety visit, which may include extra precautionary measures, put in place to help protect them from having a fire.