20 June 2012
A spate of fire deaths across Northern Ireland has prompted a series of free safety workshops, which begin next week, focusing on those most at risk of being killed or injured in accidental fires.
So far during 2012, eight people have been killed in accidental house fires in Northern Ireland.
In response, a fire safety workshop for those working with vulnerable people has been developed by the Promoting Wellbeing Team at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). The workshop, which has been approved by Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and is being funded by the Public Health Agency, will run four times between June and September:
- Thursday, June 27 - St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh
- Tuesday, July 24 - Craigavon Area Hospital, Portadown
- Thursday, August 23 - Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry
- Tuesday, September 11 - South Tyrone Hospital, Dungannon.
Colin Wallace, home safety development officer for RoSPA in Northern Ireland, said: “Certain groups of people are significantly over-represented amongst fire casualties and deaths. Nearly eight out of 10 fire fatalities involve someone who is impaired in some way, for example through legal substances including alcohol and prescribed medication or because of mental or physical impairment that may or may not be related to age. Sometimes, there is a combination of these factors. Alongside the immediate causes of a fire - such as a carelessly discarded cigarette or a chip pan - alcohol, mobility and mental illness are the biggest single influences on whether a fire starts and, or, whether it has fatal consequences.”
The workshop is for carers and practitioners from the statutory, voluntary and community sectors who work with vulnerable clients in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust’s area, particularly those with links to: families with young children; individuals with a physical or sensory impairment, learning disability, mental health condition or addiction problems; older people; and other vulnerable groups, for example those from a black or minority ethnic background.
Nina Daly, accident prevention officer, Promoting Wellbeing Team, Southern Health and Social Care Trust, said: “These workshops will help make staff more mindful of fire risk factors such as age and gender, personal living circumstances, physical and mental health conditions and behaviours and lifestyles that can place their clients and patients at high risk. The sessions will help explain how they can play an important role in helping to reduce fire risk through sharing information on local services they can avail of and sources of fire safety information.”
Each workshop will cover: the client groups most at risk of fire; how to identify early warning signs or near misses; what is involved in a free home fire safety check and how to make referrals to this service; other useful sources of information in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area; and other general sources of fire safety information.
Kevin O’Neill, group commander, NIFRS, said: “We work tirelessly to protect all our vulnerable groups in the community to ensure they keep safe from the dangers of fire in their homes. We want to reach a stage where we have no fatalities in Northern Ireland due to accidental house fires and we will continue to dedicate ourselves to that. The fire safety workshops are a great opportunity for us to work in partnership with other agencies in the community to further highlight the importance of fire safety to vulnerable people and their carers.”
Each running of the workshop will be from 9.30am-12noon. Places are still available at the Craigavon Area Hospital, Daisy Hill Hospital and South Tyrone Hospital sessions. Practitioners wishing to book should contact Mairead Casey, training support officer at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, on Mairead.firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 3741 2406.