Warning issued after alarming number of electrical fires in Calderdale

Electrical fires in Calderdale
Electrical fires in Calderdale

Warnings about the dangers of electrical fires have been issued after alarming figures of incidents in Calderdale were revealed.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) and Together Housing have launched six new fire safety videos in the hope they will give people ‘bite-sized’ information on how to keep fire safe.

In the last five years (2013-2017) WYFRS has attended 109 accidental dwelling fires across Calderdale district which were started by electrics – equating to almost a quarter (24%) of all accidental fires in homes in the area.

During the same period 348 accidental fires were recorded in homes across Calderdale caused by other non-electrical sources – 195 of which were accidental cooking related fires. So in total there have been 457 accidental dwelling fires in Calderdale in the five years 2013-2017.

Calderdale District Commander Martyn Greenwood said: “We hope that people will watch the Sixty Second Safety videos and will take on board our simple yet crucial advice.

“Electrical fires account for almost 25% of all accidental fires in homes across Calderdale, so it’s one of the key themes the videos touch on.

“The importance of having working smoke alarms is also heavily featured in the videos. Out of all of the accidental fires we have attended in homes in Calderdale over the last five years only 59% had a working smoke alarm.

“In 21% of cases people had a smoke alarm which did not go off – possibly due to poor maintenance or because the batteries had expired. So it’s not good enough to just have a smoke alarm – it needs to be working!”

Together Housing manages 10,000 properties across Calderdale.

In total there are 41 high rise buildings over six storeys within the Calderdale district, and 16 of these also belong to Together Housing Group (THG).

They will be delivering the videos via social media as reminders to their tenants.

The Fire Service District Commander added: “We have teamed up with Together Housing to reach-out to their tenants. “Living in high-rise or social housing accommodation doesn’t put you at any more risk of having a fire but you do need to think about the impact a fire could have not only on yourself but other residents nearby.

“Residents need to know about what to do in the rare event of a fire to best help the Fire Service tackle it quickly and keep yourself and your family safe.

“Also if people can be more vigilant about fire safety there’s less chance of the Fire Service being called to false alarms which takes up our time and resources unnecessarily.”

The Fire Service attends numerous false alarms each year which are often due to things like cooking fumes setting off a smoke alarm, or even due to poor maintenance or positioning of smoke alarms causing them to be falsely triggered.

False alarms are common in flats - 401 false alarms were recorded in all purpose-built flats alone in the last five years in Calderdale.

George Paterson, Director of Property Services for Together Housing, said: “The risk from fire is something that is always there, but by taking simple steps, tenants can drastically reduce the chance of a fire and keep them, their families and their communities safe.

“Electrical fires, for example, are easily avoided if people switch off appliances, don't use appliances that are faulty and don’t overload sockets. We wanted this information to be short, snappy but clear and effective.

“Together Housing has a long-term partnership with WYFRS and it’s been great to work with them on these really important videos as part of our ongoing work.”