A Coleraine fire chief has appealed for the public’s help in helping to protect the elderly in our community from the dangers of fire.
Bill Wilsdon, Coleraine District Commander’s appeal follows a sudden increase in fatal accidental house fires across Northern Ireland over the past six weeks, which has tragically claimed the lives of seven elderly people.
Mr Wilsdon told The Coleraine Times: “The whole of the Fire & Rescue Service has been left stunned and deeply saddened by this latest tragedy in Castlederg where an elderly man has lost his life in an accidental house fire.
“It is an unspeakable tragedy that seven elderly people have now lost their lives in accidental house fires recently and it has struck at the very heart of the Fire & Rescue Service, as we have all dedicated our lives to protecting our community.
“We are all family people ourselves and our thoughts remain very much with all of the families who have been left devastated from the deaths of these very vulnerable people over the past six weeks.
“I want to assure the public that we are doing everything we possibly can do out there on the ground, our firefighters are out there working as tirelessly as ever to ensure that elderly people in particular are kept safe from the dangers of fire in their homes.”
Mr Wilsdon said the Fire and Rescue Service needed the public’s help to prevent future tragedies.
“We have been heavily targeting our community education and engagement activities right across Northern Ireland and prioritising our free Home Fire Safety Checks for the over 65’s.
We have also been meeting with partner agencies to identify if there are any further measures we can take over and above all the work we are currently doing – because we believe that by working together we can save more lives.
“I am personally urging people again to take some time to check in with their elderly neighbours, elderly family members or elderly friends and consider their fire safety.
“Check that they have a smoke alarm and test it for them to ensure it is working. Check their home for fire safety hazards and take time to explain to them the importance of a bed time fire safety routine, a fire escape plan and make sure they know who to contact in an emergency. If necessary we will fit a free smoke alarm for them.”