57% of people who died in accidental house fires in the last 3 years were aged 60 and over. With an ageing population and a greater emphasis on supporting people to live independently at home, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) and Age NI are working together to identify and protect people most at risk from accidental house fires.
The Age NI and NIFRS partnership agreement enables Age NI to make client referrals to NIFRS who will then arrange for a free home fire safety check to be carried out by local Firefighters.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, NIFRS explains: 'Fire safety is an issue that impacts everyone in Northern Ireland but we know there are people who because of their circumstances are at a higher risk of having an accidental house fire. We define people most at risk from accidental house fires as those aged 60+ who have mobility and health issues which would impact on their ability to acknowledge and respond to a fire. Organisations such as Age NI work on a daily basis with people we deem to be at highest risk, by working with Age NI we can identify those people most at risk and help them with their fire safety in their home.
'This partnership approach ultimately saves lives and helps us protect and engage directly with those in the community who need our help most. We want to reach a stage where we have no fatalities due to accidental house fires – that has to be our goal not only this Fire Safety Week but every week.'
Brenda Kearns, Head of Advice and Advocacy at Age NI said: 'We are delighted to work with NIFRS on such a positive initiative. By working together, and identifying opportunities to support those who are most vulnerable in our society, we can make a real difference to the lives of older people across Northern Ireland.'
NIFRS currently has 49 partnership agreements with organisations across the health, social care, voluntary and local government sectors, who deliver care services to people at risk on a daily basis. Recent partnership agreements have been signed with Oak Healthy Living (Fermanagh), Causeway Coast & Glens Council, Good Morning Service North Down & Ards, Belfast City Council City & Neighbourhood and the Leonard Cheshire Charity.
Firefighters will visit people referred to NIFRS by partner agencies in their homes to help reduce their risk of a house fire by providing a free home fire safety check. This includes practical fire safety advice, developing fire escape plans and checking and fitting smoke alarms.
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