Fire chief sounds safety alarm call

FIRE chiefs have urged people in the Borders to be on their guard against festive fires in their homes.

Each year there are around 6,000 accidental house fires in Scotland with about 100 blazes each year in the Borders.

In 2010-11 three people were killed in fires in the Borders and 24 injured.

In the 12 months to March this year it’s reckoned the bill from house fires in the region was around £783,000.

The Scottish Government says that in around half of the Scottish fires, houses either did not have a smoke alarm or the one that was fitted wasn’t working.

With Christmas and the New Year celebrations approaching, Holyrood is encouraging people to take advantage of having a free working alarm installed.

A spokesman said: “With smoking and drinking continuing to be common factors in accidental house fires, being extra vigilant when putting out cigarettes and avoiding cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol, can significantly reduce the risk.”

The chief officer with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service Alex Clark said: “Firefighters know all too well that fire can strike at anytime and anywhere. We respond to these incidents every day in Scotland and we see the devastating consequences of accidental house fires and the impact they have on families and our communities.

“Last year, over 1,200 people were hurt or injured as a result of a fire in the home.

“Historically as we go into the winter months we see a rise in the number of accidental fires due to people spending more time in their homes, an increased reliance on heaters, tumble dyers and electric blankets and the use of log and coal burning fires.

“I would urge people to take the time to think about taking up the opportunity of a free home fire safety visit. It could save their lives.”

In the last year for which final figures are available, fire crews in the Borders offered 4,428 households a free check; 2,153 checks were carried out and 2,517 free, 10-year, alarms were fitted.

• To request a free home fire safety visit, text FIRE to 61611 or visit www.dontgivefireahome.org