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Residents urged to keep fire safe during pandemic

Residents across the county are being urged to stay fire safe while they isolate with their families at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A week into the government’s instruction to stay at home except for essential journeys, fire crews have responded to several fires that might have been easily avoided by following some simple fire safety advice. Ahead of the pandemic reaching the predicted peak, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service wants to ensure crews are able to respond to those that are most in need.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “During this unprecedented time we are looking for the public’s support in helping us ensure we are available to respond to emergencies and to help us reduce the number of journey’s we have to make.

“Many fires we attend can often be avoided by following safety advice or people being more careful. Small things like not having bonfires to clear garden waste and making sure any smoking materials are disposed of properly can all help prevent an unnecessary fire.”

Since the start of the government’s stay at home directive on Monday March 23, crews have attended more than 40 fires across the county. These have ranged from fires in chimneys, out of control bonfires and fires in the open, of which 10 were started deliberately.

CFO Strickland continued: “We often attend fires that are started deliberately that present significant risks, not only to those that start them and are around the area, but to the crews that are sent to tackle them. Now more than ever we would urge people to not start a fire intentionally as it could have severe consequences. Not only is it a crime that can carry a significant sentence, but our crews would potentially be unable to get to another emergency. And importantly, at this time, everyone should be staying at home and only venturing out for essential journeys.

“It is really important that residents take care while isolating and make sure they don’t put themselves at risk. For example, think twice before using candles or having a bonfire, and if you do, please take extra care and follow safety advice available on our website. We also know this is a busy time for families having children at home all day. When cooking it is easy to become distracted by other people in the house but that is when fires can start. Using timers to remind you of food in the oven or on the hob is a great tip to prevent fires.”

Chris concluded: “One really simple thing people can do to protect their families and their home is to ensure they have working smoke alarms. They will alert you to a fire and give you precious minutes to escape to safety. You should have at least one on every floor and test them regularly.”

For more top tips on keeping your family safe from fire, visit the Home Safety section.