Chester woman saved by flame retardant throw

A woman from Chester has thanked the team at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service for saving her life and her home.

She fell getting out of an armchair in her living room and banged her head on a television unit on the night of Monday 19 April.

As she lay unconscious, a cigarette the woman in her 60s had been smoking began to burn the armchair.

Thankfully, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s fire prevention team had given her a flame retardant throw to put over the chair following a fire risk assessment of her house six months earlier.

The team also ensured that she had working smoke alarms in the property.

The throw ensured that the fire caused by the dropped cigarette did not spread beyond the chair.

It stopped the fire from developing and ensured that the woman had not been seriously harmed by fire or smoke when she regained consciousness approximately half-an-hour after she banged her head.

She woke up to find the chair smouldering and called for help.

Firefighters subsequently made the chair safe with a hose reel jet and used a large fan to clear the house of smoke.

Smoke alarms were sounding when they arrived.

The woman, who was taken to hospital in an ambulance on the night of her ordeal and is now back home after receiving treatment, said: “I am so thankful to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, and I want to remind everyone to test their smoke alarms.

“I have been very lucky.”

Her daughter added: “I am really pleased that the fire and rescue service provided my mum with the fire retardant throw on a previous visit.

“I am also thankful for all that the service is doing to support my mum, making her feel safe and at ease in her home after the fire.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention Manager Steve McCormick said: “As well as dealing with a range of emergency incidents across the county as they occur, we do extensive work in a bid to prevent fires from occurring.

“This is just one of many examples of us identifying a fire risk and taking action to protect people and the homes they live in.

“A fire risk assessment of the woman’s house in October 2020 revealed a need for additional smoke detection to be installed.

“It also revealed a need for a flame retardant throw for the armchair which the occupier used to sit in whilst smoking.

“Had our prevention team not identified and addressed those issues, the consequences of the fire could have been far more severe.

“Fire spreads quickly and puts lives and properties at risk.

“Flame retardant items slow the rate in which a fire develops, allowing more time for people to escape and for firefighters to extinguish it before extensive damage is caused.

“Having at least one working smoking alarm on every floor of your home ensures that fires are detected in their early stages, before they have chance to take hold.

“I am delighted to hear that the equipment installed by our prevention team came to the occupier’s aid at her time of need, and that she is now back home recovering from her ordeal.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s fire safety tips for smokers includes:

  • Never smoke in bed - if you need to lie down, don’t light up as you could doze off and set your bed on fire

  • Take extra care when you are tired or if you have taken any sort of drugs (including prescription medication) or been drinking alcohol - it is very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning

  • Make sure that your cigarette is fully extinguished after you have finished smoking it

  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended - they can easily overbalance as they burn down

  • Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn

  • Do not empty your ashtray into a bin because this can cause it to catch fire

  • Putting a drop of water in an ashtray after you have stubbed your cigarette out will help to make it safe.

If you discover a fire in your home, do not tackle it yourself. Get out as quickly as possible, stay out and dial 999.

For more fire safety advice, covering everything from smoke alarms to escape routes, visit - home safety.

Last updated: Monday 14 June 2021