The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has thrown its weight behind national No Smoking Day, with officers pointing out that half of Scotland’s fatal fires are started by smoking materials.
Last year accidental house fires saw 37 people lose their lives in Scotland, and with new research from the No Smoking Day 2014 campaign showing one in five UK adults smoke, the issue remains a serious concern for firefighters.
Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Lewis Ramsay, the SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “Quitting smoking means reducing you and your family’s chances of being injured or dying in a fire.
“We support No Smoking Day’s aim of helping smokers who want to quit by creating a supportive environment, but for those who do smoke, a few simple steps will reduce the risk of fire.
“A dropped cigarette end can smoulder for hours before becoming a fully developed fire. People need to make sure cigarettes are stubbed out properly.
“We have seen tragedies where someone has lost their life or suffered horrific injuries after falling asleep with a lit cigarette.
“People just shouldn’t smoke in bed and anyone who has been drinking or feels drowsy shouldn’t do so in a chair either – it’s far too easy to nod off and start a potentially devastating fire.
“Smoking and alcohol are a potentially deadly combination. By recognising the danger and choosing to stand up to have a cigarette, smokers who are under the influence can prevent fires and the deaths and injuries they cause.”
Scotland saw 350 accidental house fires caused by smoking and smoker’s materials last year. These were also the most common cause of the accidental fires where someone was killed.
The presence of working smoke alarms is known to be a crucial factor in people getting to safety when fire does strike a home, and SFRS is clear every property must be protected by these life-saving devices.
While all householders are urged to ensure their homes have a working smoke alarm on every level, people who do smoke in a bedroom should also have an alarm fitted there.
ACO Ramsay continued: “We need people to discuss fire safety with their families and make sure anyone who could be vulnerable gets the advice and support they need to stay safe in their homes.
“Everyone can take very simple steps to reduce the risk – our crews want to share the advice we know will prevent tragedies. We want to hear from anyone who thinks they or someone they know is at risk from fire.
“You might know someone who lives alone, who smokes and drinks – if so then please get in touch with us today.
“Firefighters throughout Scotland offer free home fire safety visits seven days a week at a time that suits you. These have proven hugely popular but we want to reach everyone who could benefit.
“I sincerely hope No Smoking Day 2014 inspires many smokers to win their fight against cigarettes and quit smoking.
“Whether or not people manage to stop smoking however, it is vital that they join Scotland’s fight against fire and take the steps needed to prevent smoking materials starting potentially devastating fires.”
Anyone can arrange a free home fire safety visit by calling the freephone number 0800 0731 999 or texting ‘fire’ to 61611.
More than 56,000 of the visits were carried out last year as people across Scotland welcomed their local crews to provide expert advice and welcome reassurance.
Among the simple steps smokers can take to prevent fires is to keep matches, lighters and cigarettes out of the reach of children. Helpful tips on safe practices for smokers and can be found in the SFRS ‘Smoking & Alcohol’ leaflet (http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/media/332088/smoking___alcohol.pdf).
More information on No Smoking Day 2014, including useful facts and resources, is available at http://www.nosmokingday.org.uk/.