Belfast Telegraph

284 fires started in Northern Ireland kitchens last year

By Adrian Rutherford

Cooking is the main cause of accidental house fires in Northern Ireland.

Crews attended 826 accidental blazes last year - 284 (34%) were caused by cooking or cooking appliances.

Of those, some 129 fires originated from the hot plate or ring area on a cooker or stove, and 70 from the grill or toaster.

The figures were released by the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) at the start of Fire Safety Week.

Last year nine people lost their lives because of accidental fires.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Walmsley urged people to think about steps they can take to prevent blazes in the home.

"Fires from cooking and cooking appliances can be avoided by keeping the oven and grill pans free from a build-up of oils and grease which can easily catch fire," he said.

"Flammable items such as tea towels and oven gloves should be kept away from the cooker top, and always check that the cooker or hob is turned off when you have finished.

"More accidental fires happen in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home.

"It's easy to get distracted but our advice is never to leave cooking unattended - it's a very simple message but it has the potential to be lifesaving." Mr Walmsley said people aged 60 and over, those who live alone, are disabled or have mobility issues, are more at risk of a fire at home and therefore will be offered a free home fire safety check.

"Our ultimate goal is that no one in Northern Ireland loses their life due to an accidental house fire, and reducing the risk of a fire occurring in the first instance will ultimately help us achieve this goal," he added.

Fire Safety Week is taking place on both sides of the border.

Eamon Woulfe, Chief Fire Officer with Louth Fire Service, said cooking was responsible for a high number of accidental blazes in the Republic also.

"I would like to echo Mr Walmsley's comments which certainly reflect our experience in the South," he said.

"An increasing percentage of house fires are caused by cooking practices and, similar to the North, the incidence of serious house fires has been much higher for older people living alone.

"We will be using this year's Fire Safety Week messages to increase public awareness of home fire safety risks."

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