Belfast Telegraph

Number of lives lost in NI house fires drops dramatically

Two people who died this year were vulnerable, the fire and rescue service said.

The number of lives lost in house fires has fallen dramatically in Northern Ireland, senior fire officer Alan Walmsley said (Liam McBurney/PA).Previously unreleased imaged of Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. The number of lives lost in house fires has fallen dramatically in Northern Ireland. Two people who died this year were vulnerable, the fire and rescue service said. The public safety organisation has carried out almost 5,000 checks on the homes of those most at risk. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 18, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Fire. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The number of lives lost in house fires has fallen dramatically in Northern Ireland, senior fire officer Alan Walmsley said (Liam McBurney/PA).Previously unreleased imaged of Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. The number of lives lost in house fires has fallen dramatically in Northern Ireland. Two people who died this year were vulnerable, the fire and rescue service said. The public safety organisation has carried out almost 5,000 checks on the homes of those most at risk. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 18, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Fire. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

By Michael McHugh, PA

The number of lives lost in house fires has fallen dramatically in Northern Ireland.

Two people who died this year were vulnerable, the fire and rescue service said.

The public safety organisation has carried out almost 5,000 checks on the homes of those most at risk.

Assistant chief fire and rescue officer Alan Walmsley said: “Every year we are growing, we are getting more embedded in these organisations, we are getting more embedded into the community themselves.”

During the first three years of the People At Risk strategy the number of house fire fatalities dropped by a third.

The fire service is also reducing the number of accidental dwelling fires.

That involves checking the structure of houses.

Where people would find it difficult to exit at speed, like the elderly and those with dementia, the fire service can refer to other agencies.

The number of fire instances we are dealing with has dropped significantly over the last 10 or 15 years Alan Walmsley

Mr Walmsley added: “The number of fire instances we are dealing with has dropped significantly over the last 10 or 15 years.

“We have almost been victims of our own success because we have been driving down the number of fires that are occurring, which is what we want to achieve.

“But with that comes a wider role for us within society and the community.”

Christmas is a particularly risky time for vulnerable people.

Use of alcohol and social deprivation are also risk factors.

A fire service annual report said: “As the population lives longer and with more emphasis on providing support and care in the community and allowing people to live independently at home for as long as possible, the numbers of people falling within the people at risk category in Northern Ireland is set to increase.”

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