Thursday 25 July 2024
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Increase in house fire deaths in Nottinghamshire

A top firefighter says there has been a rise in the number of people being killed in house fires across the county – with single males being the most likely victims.

Bryn Coleman, area manager for prevention, protection and fire investigation at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, detailed the risks following a series of incidents.

Fire fatalities rose in Nottinghamshire last year – with seven incidents resulting in seven deaths in 2021 compared to four deaths from three incidents the previous year.

Mr Coleman says any fire fatality is “a tragedy” but gives the service an opportunity to “learn lessons” and adapt its approach in prevention and response.

Mr Coleman has created a fatal fire review which will be discussed at a community safety committee on Friday, April 1, at Sherwood Lodge.

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Of the seven deaths in 2021, one incident took place in Nottingham city, one in Newark and Sherwood, one in Rushcliffe, two in Broxtowe and two within the Ashfield district.

Three fatalities were adult females, with the remainder being adult males. Four of the fire fatalities were over the age of 65; the youngest fatality was 53-years old, with the oldest being 85.

All of the seven victims lived alone, and all but one had underlying medical conditions, mobility impairments or mental health issues.

One fatality took place in a moving vehicle, whilst all others were within the home.

Mr Coleman told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is generally males living alone known to health and social services, with mobility issues who may drink or smoke which makes them vulnerable to a fire. We know elderly people living alone who may have issues with hoarding.

“If you know someone (like that) then refer them for a safe and well visit, free of charge, and we will send a crew round.

“In a couple of minutes your front room could be involved in fire sadly and if you have mobility issues that exacerbates the issues.”

He said a fall in calls to the service had been recorded during the pandemic, and he does not feel that people spending more time at home has resulted in the rise in deaths by fire.

“It is the changing in demographics which is adding to these figures,” he added, “we are living longer which puts people into that risk category.”

He said community reassurance and engagement activities take place immediately following a fatal fire to take advantage of the local community’s heightened awareness of fire safety.

Last year,  788 properties were contacted regarding fire prevention advice after the deaths. Of these properties, 62 safe and well visits were conducted, with 132 smoke alarms fitted.

A further 62 safe and well visits were scheduled for after the activity, where 399 properties were left with safety leaflets due to no answer on knocking and 177 addresses accepted advice and testing of their current smoke alarm.

In April, the service will analyse new data intelligence by which vulnerable people within Nottinghamshire can be identified through various datasets and directly targeted for a safe and well visit.

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