Firefighters have urged Dumfries and Galloway residents to recognise the risks and help prevent kitchen fires striking in the area.

DSC_0944More fires begin in the kitchen than in any other room of the house, with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) clear that even a moment’s distraction can lead to a devastating blaze.

Watch Manager Jason Gardiner, community fire safety officer in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We know that fires start when people’s attention stops.

“A pot or pan left unattended on the hob can easily start a fire that quickly engulfs the kitchen and spreads throughout a home, causing massive damage and threatening lives.

“The fact is even a small fire confined to the kitchen can produce large amounts of toxic smoke that will affect the whole property and could kill or seriously injure anyone inside at the time.

“Everyone needs to accept that it can happen to them. We all need to recognise the risks and take very simple measures to protect ourselves, our homes and our communities.”

Dumfries and Galloway has seen several cooking-related fires in recent months and its firefighters are working to take potentially life-saving fire safety advice to residents throughout the area.

Simple measures like taking a pot off the heat and switching off the rings before leaving the kitchen, and keeping kitchen roll and towels away from cookers, dramatically reduce the chance of a fire starting.

Traditional chip pans are known to be a fire risk and SFRS advises anyone who still uses one to consider switching to a much safer modern electric fryer.

People who are aware of the risks and take simple steps such as these are less likely to experience a fire within the home but, when fire does strike, early warning is key to saving lives and limiting the damage.    

Watch Manager Gardiner added: “Whether a house fire starts in the kitchen or in any other room every second counts – early warning is crucial to people having time to get out and call for help.

“The presence of working smoke alarms is often the difference between a fire that causes some damage to property and one that causes devastating lifelong injuries or even death.

“With most fires starting in the kitchen we would also advise people to consider getting a heat alarm fitted there.

“By raising the alarm early heat and smoke alarms also increase the chance our crews will get to an incident and be able to bring a fire under control before it spreads to other rooms, which obviously reduces the damage.”

Protecting the public by reducing the chance of fire happening is central to the modern firefighter’s role and crews across Dumfries and Galloway constantly work to help people stay safe through initiatives like the Free Home Fire Safety Visit programme.

Reaching those at highest risk is a constant challenge for firefighters however, and members of the public have been urged to discuss fire safety with anyone they keep an eye on.

Watch Manager Gardiner explained: “Most of us look out for a neighbour or a relative who could use a little extra support so our message is for people to help by putting them in touch with the fire service.

“Our communities in Dumfries and Galloway are very close knit and that is a tremendous asset that can be used to keep vulnerable people safe.

“We want to reach older people and anyone whose lifestyle could mean they are at risk, so we can make them aware of hazards and help them to reduce the chance of a fire happening in their home.

“By taking advice on how to stay safe while cooking, making sure they are protected by working smoke alarms, and ensuring they know what to do if a fire does happen, we can reduce the chance of a tragedy.”

To join Scotland’s fight against fire and arrange a free home fire safety visit, call SFRS on the freephone number 0800 0731 999 or text ‘check’ to 61611.

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