The number of people injured in accidental house fires in the Highland area has dropped to its lowest level in five years.
Latest figures from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) quarterly performance report, reveal a total of 15 people required medical attention from 108 separate incidents between April and December.
This is down by more than 50 percent on 2013/14 when injury numbers spiked at 31.
Fire casualty recording relates to any form of first aid treatment or medical attention regardless of the type of injury and can range from a precautionary check at the scene of an incident to hospitalisation for severe smoke inhalation.
Of the 15, five were rescued by firefighters including four who required hospital treatment with the remaining 11 receiving first aid at the scene.
Local Senior Officer John MacDonald today welcomed the reduction but stressed firefighters would continue to work tirelessly to prevent house fires from occurring in the first place.
As part of this effort, SFRS teams carried out 3160 free Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) between April and December where they checked or installed smoke detectors and issued safety advice.
LSO MacDonald said: “Whilst I am pleased there has been an overall reduction in casualty numbers it is disappointing to note that 15 people have been injured over the period.
“A single casualty is one too many and our aim is to improve fire safety in our communities wherever and whenever we can.
“This means continuing to work closely with our partner agencies to identify those households that would benefit most from a Home Fire Safety Visit (HFSV) and other preventative advice.
“We’re particularly keen to assist the most vulnerable members of our communities at home to ensure their living area is safe.”
The report was presented to The Highland Council’s Community and Partnerships Committee on Thursday, 9 February.
It also highlighted a single fatality, which occurred over the reporting period as a result of an accidental house fire.
LSO MacDonald added: “Tragic incidents, such as this, can have a devastating impact not only on loved ones but on the community as a whole.
“The public can rest assured that we’re doing everything in our power to prevent these awful events from happening in the future and improving the safety and welfare of everyone.”
A lapse in concentration whilst cooking has been linked to accidental dwelling fires.
A total of 108 accidental house fires were reported between April and December – a rise of 20 on the previous year.
At 29 of these incidents the cause of fire was cooking related with majority of all incidents originating in the kitchen, a total of 55.
Fortunately 39 of these incidents resulted in no damage to the surroundings while a further 47 were confined to a small area of less than five square metres.
LSO MacDonald said: “Through our community engagement work, which resulted in 806 new smoke detectors being fitted over the reporting period, we are now, on many occasions, being made aware of emergencies within a shorter period of time.
“Householders are being alerted sooner, which, in turn, allows us to arrive on the scene quicker and prevent incidents from growing into well-developed fires with the potential for causing significant damage to property or worse, to occupants
“The danger of fire is ever present and it’s clear a drop in concentration whilst cooking in the kitchen remains one of the greatest risks to households.
“That’s why we want to meet people in their homes to make sure they never step away from the cooker without first taking pots or pans off the heat and fully switching off the grill.
“It’s also important to think about where items like kitchen roll and towels are kept, so they are never placed close to the cooker.”
The SFRS advise the following tips for kitchen safety:
- Never leave your cooker, grill or oven on when you go out – even on a timer
- Never hang or dry clothing and towels near the cooker
- When deep frying only ever fill one third full
- Always switch appliances off before going to bed or leaving the house
For more tips and advice visit:
To register for a FREE Home Fire Safety Visit call the SFRS Freephone number: 0800 0731 999, or visit the website at www.firescotland.gov.uk