Firefighters are urging people to ensure their cigarettes are extinguished properly following a flat fire yesterday afternoon (August 17).
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was called to the two-storey block of flats at 4.55pm yesterday (August 17) after a cigarette left unextinguished set light to a sofa causing significant damage to the ground floor property.
The occupier, a man in his 50s, was out of the property when the blaze started. Thankfully, because West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service had previously carried out a Home Fire Safety Check at the Crawley property, it was protected by a Careline System with a specialist ‘Firelink’ smoke alarm. This meant that an operator at a 24-hour monitoring centre was automatically alerted to the fire and could place the 999 call to the Fire Service.
A fire crew from Crawley was at the scene within five minutes of the alarm being raised and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus quickly extinguished the blaze using hose reels preventing it from spreading.
Smoking is still the single biggest killer in accidental fires in the home. In the last two years in West Sussex, two thirds of all fatal house fires have been smoking related.
Following the incident fire investigation officer David Shaw, said: “The most important piece of advice we can offer to smokers is to make sure you use an ashtray and put your cigarettes right out when you have finished smoking. Please take extra care if you are tired or have been drinking and never smoke in bed.”
“We’d like to remind people that we offer free Home Fire Safety Checks to give safety advice and, where appropriate, fit smoke detectors or other specialist fire detection equipment. Priority is given to those who are elderly or more vulnerable. Call free on 0800 328 6487 or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire.”
West Sussex Fire & Rescue offers the following simple safety advice to smokers:
. Stub out cigarettes properly and dispose of them carefully
. Use a proper ashtray - never a wastepaper basket
. Make sure your ashtray can’t tip over and is made of material that won’t burn
. Take extra care when you are tired, have been drinking alcohol or taking medication that can make you drowsy - it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning
. Don’t smoke in bed - if you need a lie down, don’t light up. It’s too easy to doze and for bedding to catch light
. Keep all matches and lighters well out of the reach of children
. Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended - they can easily overbalance and start a fire