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Fire demo gives kids a sense of how rapid home blaze can spread

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 06/10/2015

This is one of the harrowing scenes that young schoolchildren were confronted with for Fire Safety Week.

Pupils from Ballycarrickmaddy Primary School near Lisburn were among the first to witness the shocking devastation that can be caused by carelessness.

Lucy McCann and Philip Totten saw how a bedroom can be transformed into a burnt-out shell.

They were visiting a staged burnt-out child's bedroom in the RADAR Youth Safety Centre in Belfast to learn about making the right choices to protect themselves, with a 'before' and 'after' fire scene showing just how quickly a blaze can take hold.

Much of the focus of Fire Safety Week this year is on smoking, which has been linked to almost half the fatal fires in Northern Ireland over the past five years.

The Fire and Rescue Service said this applied to 22 of the 53 accidental fire deaths since 2010.

Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: "Smoking materials remain the biggest cause of accidental house fires in Northern Ireland and it is a key area of safety that we need to address."

Last year crews attended 72 house fires caused by smoking-related materials - including four fatal incidents.

It was a marked increase on the previous year when two people lost their lives and firefighters were called to tackle blazes at 58 residential properties.

Mr Walmsley added: "Fires caused by smoking materials can spread very rapidly within moments through a house.

"Unfortunately, our firefighters experience first-hand the destruction and devastation caused by fires in the home started by smoking materials and we would appeal to the public to be extra vigilant as it only takes a few moments for a serious fire to develop."

Householders have been warned against smoking in bed; to make sure tobacco materials are properly extinguished and to keep matches or lighters away from children.

A new ad campaign has been launched to highlight the dangers and to mark Fire Safety Week.

Belfast Telegraph

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