Tamworth house fire sparks warning over smoking

Saturday, 1st April 2017

FIREFIGHTERS have issued a safety warning in the wake of a house fire in Tamworth which was caused by discarded smoking materials.

The Service is urging people not to smoke inside but, if they do, to ensure that cigarettes are completely extinguished and disposed of in a safe manner.

Tamworth and Polesworth crews attended the fire in Medway at 1.30am yesterday morning, Friday March 31, after a fire started in a ground floor bedroom. Fire alarms activated, along with a sidewall sprinkler system installed in the bedroom

The sprinkler system had greatly reduced the fire and on arrival crews wore two breathing apparatus, used one hose reel jet and then ventilated the property.

The bedroom was occupied by a man and an elderly woman, who both have mobility issues. A second man who was sleeping upstairs was alerted by the fire alarms and went downstairs to help the man and woman from the property.

The three occupants suffered from smoke inhalation and were taken by ambulance to Good Hope Hospital as a precaution.

A fire investigation found that the fire started when a teacup, being used as an ashtray, fell and spilt its contents onto paperwork and a plastic storage container.

Station Manager Dez Stoddart said: “Thankfully no one was seriously injured during this incident thanks to the alarm and sprinkler system in place, the sprinkler also meant that smoke damage to the house was kept to a minimum.

“The sprinkler system was fitted three years ago by the Service as a result of work with partners and undoubtedly played a significant part in preventing this incident from escalating.

“The alarms alerted the man sleeping upstairs who was able to help the downstairs occupants escape the house.

“This accident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of smoking and how easily smoking materials can set combustible items alight. It also demonstrates how mobility can increase people’s risk of dying in a house fire.

“In the last 10 years research has shown that 50 per cent of those who died in accidental house fires had mobility issues, it also showed cigarettes/cigars and lighters have been the biggest cause of fatal fires, with 41 per cent of those who died being smokers.

“Smoking and mobility are two factors highlighted by the Service’s SAME campaign which aims to increase awareness of four factors which greatly increase your risk of dying in a fire; being a smoker, drinking alcohol, having poor mobility and/or being elderly. The campaign uses the acronym SAME to make it easy for people to remember the four factors: smoking, alcohol, mobility, elderly.”