Holyrood campaign is sounding the alarm about fire safety

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FIRE chiefs have urged Borderers to make sure they have a fire alarm fitted – and that it’s working.

Their call is part of a nation-wide safety campaign launched by the Scottish Government and the country’s fire and rescue services.

Fire officers warn that people are at particular risk at this time of the year – not least because of festive celebrations and the hazards caused by tree lights, candles, overloaded sockets, smoking and drinking.

Three people have died in fires in this region during 2011 – two of them in burning houses. And Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service is supporting Holyrood’s bid to reduce the danger. New figures show that around half the blaze deaths last year in Scotland occurred where the lack of a working smoke alarm was a factor.

The fire service offers a free home safety visit. Crews have also been touring with a set showing a burnt-out living room.

David Lockhart, from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, said such visits can ensure homes have the fire protection they need. He went on: “We’re really pleased with the response the tour has had. People might think about fire safety when they read about it in the paper, or see a bad fire on the TV, but we know that in the main people don’t think it will ever happen to them.

“Having a working smoke alarm and knowing what to do in those vital minutes after discovering a fire is crucial.

“We know from experience that people who have had these visits and subsequently had a fire in their home have used what they learned to escape and ensure that they and their family can get out safely and raise the alarm.”

Roseanna Cunningham, Holyrood’s minister for community safety, added: “The number of lives lost to fire in Scotland has fallen for the third year in a row, but we cannot forget the victims and families affected. Every life lost to fire is a tragedy and lessons must be learned to ensure the number of lives lost continues to fall. That’s why this campaign is so important.

“We all want our communities to be safe from fire, especially at this time of year.

“The Scottish Government and fire and rescue services continue to work hard educating people about the risks of fire – be it alcohol, smoking, misuse of electrical appliances, the overloading of electrical sockets or other means – and in this festive period the most important message we can give is not to be complacent and always be on your guard.”

Text FIRE to 61611 to request a free home safety visit or go to www.dontgivefireahome.org for safety advice.