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Increase in fire call-outs in Bucks after lockdown

More 'fire in the open' calls have been made to Bucks Fire & Rescue.

Published by Dan Gooding at 2:28pm 6th April 2020. (Updated at 3:47pm 6th April 2020) 6-minute read.

Increase in fire call-outs in Bucks after lockdown

More people are having 'fires in the open' in Buckinghamshire - meaning more call-outs for our fire crews.

As garden waste collections are on hold, Bucks Fire had 16 incidents in the last week of March and 12 in just the first two days of April.

The service are asking us to be careful as we spend more time at home.

Garden waste
There is a worry more will try to burn garden waste

Lawrence Whitelock is from Bucks Fire:

"If you are absolutely having to have a bonfire and you can't just not, then we recommend you build it away from homes, bushes and trees.

"If it's green [waste] then just burn that. 

"Anything else, don't burn and save it up until the tips are open again."

With more of us staying at home and even continuing to work in improvised office spaces, there is also a worry about electrical fires.

Bucks Fire
Bucks Fire have issued advice as more of us are stuck at home

Lawrence added:

"People are using laptops and tablets more, for example, so we want to make sure people avoid plugging too many appliances into the same extension lead, as that can cause an overload of the sockets."

What can people do to be safe within their home?

1) Smoke Alarms

Ensure there are working smoke alarms on each floor of your home in central areas such as the hall or landing. These should be tested once a month to ensure they are operating. If you do not have working smoke alarms then please buy them from a reputable supplier, making sure they have a BSI kitemark symbol and the CE Mark on them as this shows they meet European Safety standards.

If you are unable to buy and install smoke alarms yourself, due to your age or mobility, then call 01296 744477 to be screened for a visit.

What are some of the Fire Safety concerns around the home?

2) Electrical Fire Safety

A lot more people are currently working from home in improvised office arrangements using laptops, tablets, monitors, printers, and chargers etc. 

Whilst working from home, avoid plugging too many appliances into a single extension lead as this may overload the socket. 

Do not charge electrical items such as mobile phones or laptop computers on soft surfaces like beds, sofas, or whilst tucked under furniture. The cooling vents can be blocked from circulating air giving the potential for the device to overheat and ignite.

3) Kitchen safety

Nationally, around half of all domestic fires begin in the kitchen. Many fires could be avoided if safe practices are followed.

Avoid leaving cooking unattended. Overheated pans can produce a surprisingly large amount of smoke. Always switch the oven and hob off when you have finished cooking 

Store items where they will not fall onto the hob. This includes being mindful of electrical leads, tea towels, dishcloths and others items which could catch fire.

Register your kitchen appliances with manufacturers to be informed of any recalls or safety notices are issued.

4) Outdoor Fires

In the past week BFRS has attended 16 ‘fires in the open’, most of which have been controlled bonfires. Whilst people are staying home they need to be aware that local garden waste collections have stopped and waste management sites/tips have closed. If at all possible store garden waste rather than burning it, or better still delay jobs around the home which will produce a large amount of waste. 

If you absolutely do have to have a bonfire, build it away from homes, bushes, trees, fences, sheds, oil tanks or garden furniture.

Do not use flammable liquids to start the bonfire or burn dangerous items on it (such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries).

Never leave a lit bonfire unattended. An adult must supervise the bonfire until it has burnt out. If it has to be left, damp it down with plenty of water.

5) Night-time routine

Before you go to bed make it a routine to close internal doors, make sure any candles or smoking materials are totally out and ensure electrical devices are not left charging overnight.

Last year Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service attended 20 accidental house fires where a kitchen appliance such as a washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher was where the fire originated. Only using these appliances by day when someone is home enables any developing problems to be detected early before they escalate.

What should people do if their smoke alarm goes off?

6) Get out and stay out!

Although the government have asked us to socially distance by ‘staying home’, if a smoke alarm is sounding and there is evidence of fire or smoke, leave the property immediately and calmly. Once you are safely outside call 999 and await further instructions.

For all fire safety advice & guidance visit bucksfire.gov.uk

Have working smoke alarms on each floor of your home

  • Never charge electrical items on soft surfaces like beds, sofas, or whilst tucked under furniture.
  • Avoid leaving cooking unattended
  • If you have to have a bonfire, build it away from homes, bushes, trees, fences, sheds, oil tanks and garden furniture
  • Before you go to bed, close internal doors, make sure any candles or smoking materials are totally out and do not leave electrical devices charging overnight
  • If your smoke alarm is sounding and there is evidence of fire or smoke, get out, stay out and call 999 
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