Leeds initiative aims to prevent fires in vulnerable people’s homes

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A partnership between West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Leeds Adult Social Care is half way through its year long drive to prevent fires in the homes of vulnerable residents.

The initiative was set up following an unusual spike in the number of fire-related deaths of elderly people across the county.

Paul Metheringham, watch manager with the fire service, is working full-time with social care staff and various partner agencies to identify high risk individuals who might need a home fire safety check.

He said: “Unfortunately a large percentage of those who fall victim to accidental fires in the home are aged 60 and over.

“There are certain high risk indicators linked to fire deaths, such as smoking, living alone, mobility issues, not having a smoke alarm, drug use (prescription or otherwise) and cooking issues.

“One of my main roles is to work with the front-line care workers who are in daily contact with the elder members of communities in their own home.

“By giving them training, they are able to recognise these high risk indicators in the homes and lifestyles of their clients and the need for a referral to the fire service.”

The scheme is part of the brigade’s Cherished Campaign, which is aimed at preventing winter deaths in older and more vulnerable members of the community.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, executive member for health, wellbeing and adults at Leeds City Council, said: “An increasing number of the older people we work with have told us they want to live independently at home for as long as possible. We want to support them to do that however we can and a key element of that work is making sure their homes are a safe environment where they have the help and advice they need. Together we can help recognise the warning signs that could prevent a tragedy.”

To book a free home fire safety check visit www.westyorksfire.gov.uk, call 0800 5874536 or pop into your nearest fire station.

Follow the Cherished campaign on Twitter @West_Yorks_FRS.