AN in depth investigation into deaths across the region caused by fires found there were no working smoke alarms in a third of fatalities.
Researchers found early evening is the deadliest time for fatal fires, twice as many men are likely to die in house blazes as women, and smoking was the biggest killer in accidental fires. Across Yorkshire nearly a third of fire deaths were arson.
The investigation looked at fatal fires in the past five years. InYorkshire and Humberside 133 people died, including 11 in North Yorkshire. Further information obtained by The Northern Echo revealed seven died in Cleveland and 15 in Durham and Darlington.
It has brought a new appeal from fire chiefs calling on householders to ensure life-saving smoke alarms are fitted and working. The investigation also revealed deadly fires were more likely to start in living rooms.
Research was compiled by forensic science student Victoria Moss working with the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to get a better understanding of the causes and how to prevent fatal fires.
“It’s shocking that after decades of national and local advertising campaigns, and fire services fitting hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in homes for free, people are still dying in house fires where smoke alarms were not present,” said Martin Blunden, assistant chief for the South Yorkshire service.
Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue found no smoke alarms in five fatalities and a further two had alarms but no battery.
Stuart Errington, chief fire officer, said: “Fitting smoke alarms on each level of your home is essential and they must be regularly tested. In some tragic cases where a person has died we have found that batteries were removed. It is no exaggeration to say that they can save your life.”
Free home visits are offered by services across the region to identify risks and fit smoke alarms. Jonathan Foster, of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said:“The findings are useful in helping us target the safety advice we give.”