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Don't ignore a smoke alarm

November 23 2018

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to take notice if they hear a smoke alarm going off

Smoke alarms can save lives. We have all set off the alarm accidentally at times. However, if it is an accident, we’ll take steps to stop it from sounding and it will go off fairly quickly. If you hear a neighbour’s smoke alarm sounding and it doesn’t stop quickly, our advice is to check that everything is ok, especially if that person lives alone.

Director of Prevent and Protect Glynn Luznyj

The plea not to ignore smoke alarms comes as part of the Service’s re-launch of its fatal fire factors campaign SAME now named SAME Again. 

SAME is the acronym for the top four factors in fatal fires over a ten-year period. They are: Smoking, Alcohol, Mobility issues and Elderly. In 48 per cent of fires during this period smoking was a factor. 

The dangers of ignoring smoke alarms in neighbouring homes were highlighted during the summer when two dwelling fires claimed the lives of two men. In each case, after the fire neighbours reported having heard an alarm but had thought nothing of it. In both cases the men who died lived alone. 

On Saturday, June 2, crews were called to a property on Melrose Avenue in the Highfields area of Stafford. Firefighters went in to the property and brought out 54 year-old Ivan Gadsby. Despite the best efforts of crews to revive him, he was pronounced dead at the scene. When firefighters spoke to residents of nearby properties one neighbour reported having heard a smoke alarm but had ignored it as it was a frequent occurrence. 

Later in June (Saturday 30), Graham Clun of Hudson Walk, Longton, lost his life in a fire at his home deemed to have been caused by the careless disposal of smoking-related materials. An alarm had been sounding for quite some time before a neighbour rang the emergency services for help. 

Director of Prevent and Protect Glynn Luznyj said: “Smoke alarms can save lives. We have all set off the alarm accidentally at times. However, if it is an accident, we’ll take steps to stop it from sounding and it will go off fairly quickly. If you hear a neighbour’s smoke alarm sounding and it doesn’t stop quickly, our advice is to check that everything is ok, especially if that person lives alone. 

“In these two tragic incidents neighbours told us they had heard alarms but had thought nothing of them. In one case, that was because the smoke alarm was triggered by the resident quite frequently. But smoke alarms are warning devices. If one continues to sound we advise people to check on their neighbour or ring us if they are at all concerned. If the smoke alarm keeps sounding give us a call. We’d rather arrive and find nothing amiss than turn up at a fire when it’s too late to save someone.“