Firefighters warn of smoking nightmares

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning people about the dangers of smoking after three fires over the weekend.

Two of the blazes resulted in casualties and all three were caused by smoking materials.

The incidents, in Neston, Chester and Ellesmere Port, highlight the deadly dangers of smoking which will be promoted by CFRS as part of this month's Fire Kills campaign.

The first incident was on Saturday 29 March in The Quillet, Neston.  One fire engine from Ellesmere Port and one from Heswall (Merseyside FRS) were called to a house fire. Firefighters, two wearing breathing apparatus, found a small fire in a downstairs room which had been caused by a discarded cigarette.  A casualty was taken to hospital suffering the effects of smoke inhalation.

The next incident, in Walmoor Park, Chester at 19:45 on 29 March, was a fire in a ground floor living room from which firefighters rescued a woman.  She was suffering from smoke inhalation so crews from Ellesmere Port and Chester gave casualty care until paramedics arrived.  Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel jet and a high pressure fan to put out the fire and disperse smoke. 

The third incident over the weekend involved a fire in a wheelie bin, into which lit smoking materials had been dropped.  It happened in New Grosvenor Road, Ellesmere Port at 19:41 on Sunday 30 March.  Firefighters used a hose reel jet to put out the blaze.  

A third of all deaths from fires in the home are caused by cigarettes.  Smoking is the single biggest killer in accidental fires in the home, often because of careless behaviour such as smoking in bed, or not taking care after drinking alcohol.

Some 288 fires have been caused by smoking materials in Cheshire over the last three years, broken down as follows:  

And when smokers fall asleep with a lit cigarette in hand, their proximity to the resulting fire seriously lowers their chance of escaping in time.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding smokers to 'Put it Out, Right Out' whenever they light up; to install smoke alarms on every level of the home and to test them on the 1st of every month. Without a working smoke alarm you are at least four times more likely to die in an accidental fire in the home.

These simple steps can help prevent a cigarette fire in the home:

  • Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired - it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight

  • Never smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape. 

  • Put it out, right out!  Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished

  • Fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999

  • 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.

Keith Brooks, the Service's Head of Community Safety and Community Fire Protection said:

"Every six days, someone dies from a fire caused by cigarettes or smoking materials. Despite a fall in the overall number of fires caused by these products, it’s still the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home across the country.

"Every smoker should wake up to the risks they take every time they light up, and drop the habit of smoking whilst in bed or under the influence of alcohol. The risk of falling asleep before you ‘put it out, right out’ is just too great.

"Just two to three breaths of toxic smoke can render you unconscious, so invest in a working smoke alarm and test it monthly. It can give you the extra time you need to escape if the worst should happen."


Date published: Tue, 01 Apr 2014 16:23:00 GMT

Last updated: Tuesday 01 April 2014

Related images

Sofa fire photo from FireKills
Stats for fires involving smoking materials in Cheshire from 2011-2014