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Essex Fire cleans ovens to save lives

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has started cleaning ovens to help cut down on kitchen fires.

Following a successful pilot in Thurrock the scheme, which has already cleaned nearly 100 ovens, is now being rolled out County-wide. But before you start queueing up ahead of the big Christmas cook up – it’s worth bearing in mind the scheme is directed at assisting those most vulnerable and unable to do the job themselves.

Station Officer Tony Howard, fire prevention officer who masterminded the scheme, said:  “I was visiting an elderly man in Thurrock who had suffered smoke inhalation after a fire in his kitchen. Talking to him, I realised the fire had started because he was no longer able to clean his oven.

“He has a care assistant who visits and the rest of his home was spotless but that service doesn’t extend to cleaning ovens and fat had built up in there which ignited when he put a lamb joint in to cook.

“Two days later there was another incident just a few roads away which also started in a dirty oven. That made me realise that delivering an oven cleaning service would be a fantastic way to prevent kitchen fires among some of the most vulnerable people in the county.

“I launched a pilot with funding from Thurrock Council and that has proven so successful that we are rolling it out County wide.”

Under the scheme vulnerable people who are physically unable to clean their oven are referred to ECFRS by friends and family or other care services. They first receive a home fire safety visit, which includes the fitting of smoke alarms free of charge and an assessment of their kitchen. This is then be followed up by a visit from a professional oven cleaning service which will leave the oven spotless and reduce the very real risk of a kitchen fire.

Station Officer Howard said: “So far we have cleaned nearly 100 ovens and that means that we could have prevented dozens of fires already. This is another initiative designed to keep people in Essex safe – we are doing more and more innovative preventative work to save people from the trauma of having a fire in their home.

If you know someone who you think is at risk because they are unable to clean their own oven call Essex County Fire and Rescue on 0300 303 0088 or email webmaster@essex-fire.gov.uk

More than half of all house fires start in the kitchen – one in three house fires in Essex begin with someone cooking.

To make sure you stay as safe as possible in the kitchen over the upcoming festive period, remember that distraction is a deadly danger. You should:

- Avoid leaving cooking unattended and never leave children in the kitchen alone.
- Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – they can easily catch fire.
- Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
- Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
- Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
- Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily. If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool. Ideally cook oven chips but if you are deep fat frying then use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer - they can’t overheat.
- Never try to cook after a night out drinking. It is far better to grab a kebab on the way home than to attempt to cook while intoxicated.

Pictured: Rupert Charles from our Kelvedon Park HQ canteen keeps our ovens spotless. How clean are yours?

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