NIFRS encourage people to ‘stay fire safe’ this Christmas

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Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is encouraging people to be fire safe this Christmas and to take simple steps to be winter ready for the difficulties and the wide range of emergencies that this time of year can bring. The weather over the Christmas period (20th December 2011 – 6 January 2012) last year was much milder than the year before and during this time Fire Crews responded to over 1,000 emergency incidents right across Northern Ireland, including road traffic collisions, special service calls and house fires. This represented a 50% decrease in incidents attended in the Christmas period the previous year. Nonetheless, NIFRS is encouraging people not to be complacent and to be prepared as severe winter weather can strike quickly. Lloyd Crawford, Group Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said: “During severe and prolonged weather periods and in particular over Christmas time people remain indoors. Things that can create fire hazards are used more often in the home; items such as candles, fairy tree lights, portable heaters and fires that have not been lit for some time. “Such additional hazards resulted in Firefighters attending 61 accidental house fires and 144 chimney fires during the Christmas period alone last year. “Sometimes people can become complacent about their fire safety during the festivities and I am urging everyone to keep themselves and their families safe by being extra vigilant to avoid fires in their homes. “Ensure you have a bed time routine, check that your smoke alarms are working and if you have visitors over the Christmas period ensure that they are aware of your fire escape plan. She continued, “I also want to reassure the public that their Fire & Rescue Service is well prepared and well rehearsed in terms of our contingency planning in readiness for severe weather conditions that we may face over the next few weeks. “This is to ensure that we can maintain our response to emergencies through heavy snow, ice, freezing temperatures, thaw and flooding etc and continue in the work that we do in protecting our community. “What I would ask however is that everyone in Northern Ireland also thinks about their own personal preparedness for the challenges that severe weather may bring. This is essentially helping us to help you. “We only need to look back at the 2010-11 Christmas period to see the significant impact that prolonged periods of severe weather can have on the daily lives of individuals and communities. Crawford added, “During periods of extreme winter weather we receive higher volumes of calls for emergency assistance and inevitably the types of incidents Firefighters are faced with become more challenging and indeed even accessing those in need during emergency situations becomes more difficult. “It is important for the public to understand what we can and what we cannot respond to. This allows us to help those in real emergency situations. For example; for burst pipes outside your home call NI Water on 0845 744 0088 and for burst pipes in your home the best advice is to call a plumber or your landlord. “I would also appeal to drivers to take extra care while driving as winter weather heightens the dangers on our roads. During severe weather only make essential journeys.”
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