Working in partnership to protect people at risk

Deputy Mayor, Alderman Stephen Martin, Lisburn & Castlereagh Council with Colin Flinn, Age NI and Northern Area Commander, Paul Coyle, NIFRS.
Deputy Mayor, Alderman Stephen Martin, Lisburn & Castlereagh Council with Colin Flinn, Age NI and Northern Area Commander, Paul Coyle, NIFRS.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service have launched a new scheme to provide local people who are most at risk with fire safety advice.

NIFRS is launching a new strategy to work with partner agencies to identify those people most at risk and to provide them with fire safety advice. The aim is to reduce the number of accidental house fires, injuries and deaths in Northern Ireland.

Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Community Protection, said: “Whilst fire safety is an important issue for everyone, we can’t ignore the fact that there are people who because of their circumstances are at higher risk.

“Analysis of the 28 accidental fire deaths in Northern Ireland over the last 3 years shows that 57% of people were aged over 60. With an aging population and a greater emphasis on supporting people to live independently at home, we need to make sure that our fire safety preventative measures are targeted at people most at risk from fire.

“By working in collaboration with organisations from across the health, social care, voluntary and local government sectors, we are able to identify those people most at risk and direct our resources through our free home fire safety checks to improving their fire safety.

“We have 49 partnership agreements with organisations across Northern Ireland, who deliver care services to people at risk on a daily basis. Our partner agencies make client referrals to us either directly or through our home fire safety check referral form on our website. We then arrange for a free home fire safety check to be carried out at the person’s home by local Firefighters. Since 1 April 2016, we have carried out 1,158 home fire safety checks with people at risk, this includes testing and, if necessary, fitting smoke alarms, making fire escape plans and giving fire safety advice around the main causes of house fires.

“During Fire Safety Week we will be signing more local partnership agreements all with the collective goal that no one in Northern Ireland should ever die in an accidental house fire.”

Two partner agencies, Age NI and Oasis Caring in Action, will be sharing their experience of working with NIFRS at the launch of the People at Risk Strategy, at Central Fire Station Belfast.

Brenda Kearns, Head of Advice and Advocacy at Age NI added, ‘We are delighted to work with NIFRS on such a positive initiative. By working together, and identifying opportunities to support those who are most vulnerable in our society, we can make a real difference to the lives of older people across Northern Ireland.’

Ruth Wallace, Assistant Executive Director said: “The Oasis Good Morning Project has been working in partnership with NIFRS over the last couple of years. Our partnership allows us to identify people most at risk and refer these individuals on to NIFRS for a home fire safety check. People using the Good Morning service can have issues around ill health, mobility issues and can also be very isolated. These people become very vulnerable to the risk of accidental fires and it is important to reduce these risks as much as possible.”