Smoke Alarm Saves Lives

MP Mark Pritchard, left, pictured with Jean Norman and firefighter Mark Hassall preparing to install the 149th ten year smoke alarm at Jean's home in Newport|Rabinder Dhami of Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service Community Fire Safety Team shows Newport MP, Mark Pritchard the ten year smoke alarms and range of Safety Leaflets available to the public

A fire safety campaign to fit free smoke alarms into homes in Telford and Newport is certainly saving lives, said The Wrekin MP.

Mark Pritchard praised Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service for initiating the campaign which has spread across Shropshire.

Thousands of smoke alarms had now been fitted and fires had plummeted as a result, he heard during a visit to Newport where he learned that 148 alarms had been put into people's homes since December.

The MP visited the home of ex-nurse Jean Norman as firefighter Mark Hassall secured the 149th ten year alarm to the hallway of her home in Bracken Way, Newport.

Mrs Norman, whose teenage cousin died in a hotel fire more than 30 years ago, said: "Everyone should have them. It's a must for us all whatever age you are."

The MP, who earlier toured the town's fire station, urged householders to call the fire service on 01743 260 200 to arrange for local firefighters' to visit to fit the alarm and give individual fire safety advice.

"This is a wonderful scheme. It has obviously already saved lives. Everyone must take advantage of this initiative," said the MP who revealed that he would be not only be checking the batteries in his own smoke alarms at home but would be replacing them with smoke alarms with ten year batteries.

Leading firefighter Phillip Matthews, who drives a bin lorry during the day, said that on average he and his colleagues attended "at least" two fires or road crashes each week in and around Newport.

Half of all Newport house fires over the past five years started in the kitchen with other causes due to cigarettes, unswept chimneys, overloaded electrical sockets, washing machines, open fires, candles and portable heaters.

"People seem to think it will never happen to them. But the damage done to someone's home in a fire is absolutely horrendous. Everyone says afterwards that they wished they had a smoke alarm," added Mr Matthews.

6th March, 2006