Press release

Smoke alarm warning after two thirds of fatal fires had no working alarms

Community Safety Officer fits smoke alarm to the ceiling

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is on a mission to make sure all Essex residents have working smoke alarms after shocking statistics show how vital they are. 

In the last few years, 70% of people who died in house fires did not have working smoke alarms.

Despite fitting 10,329 smoke alarms last year, the fire service remains deeply concerned for the unknown households still lacking this life saving equipment. 

Claire Monk, Live Safe Manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said:

“This is about saving lives. The fact that 70% of the people who died in house fires in the last few years did not have working alarms is something we can’t ignore. We are determined to reach all those who don’t currently have working smoke alarms and offer to fit smoke alarms completely free of charge.”

The fire service is encouraging communities in Essex to get involved and spread awareness of the importance of smoke alarms. Everyone can help, simply by tagging friends and family on Facebook posts or checking in on vulnerable neighbours who live alone. 

Claire adds:

“We’re committed to visiting any home in Essex and install smoke alarms completely free of charge. Smoke alarms are also very widely available to buy online and at supermarkets and DIY shops. We know it’s not the availability of smoke alarms that are stopping people having them, so we can only assume that people do not realise the value of having one at home.”

Statistics show that you’re at least four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there are no working smoke alarms. In the event of a fire, smoke alarms can give you the vital early warning that could allow you to escape from the property and call the emergency services.

Mains operated smoke alarms are available to purchase but must be installed by a qualified person and should always have a battery powered back-up to ensure they are still able to operate even in a power cut.

Follow these top tips on smoke alarms:

  • Install smoke alarms in your home, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Test smoke alarms every week to make sure they are working.
  • The best places to fit them are at the bottom of the stairs, with further smoke alarms on each stair landing
  • The ideal position is on the ceiling, as near as possible to the centre of the room, hallway or landing.
  • Take time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours as they are at greater risk from fire, and test their smoke alarms for them. 

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