Newly revealed figures from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service show that over 20 per cent of homes involved in fires in their area are not fitted with fire alarms. When alarms that do not work or have flat batteries are taken into account, the number rises to nearly 25 per cent.
Alarms play a crucial role in fire safety, as they give people an early warning to help them evacuate quickly and safely. It is best to replace the entire alarm if it is more than ten years old, and check the batteries regularly to ensure everything is in good working order. Testing the batteries is also a good opportunity to make sure the alarm can heard throughout the house.
While the present numbers are too high, the number of homes without a fire alarm actually fell from 22.09 per cent in 2013, down to the present level of 20.74 per cent for 2014.
However, it seems that fire safety messages are beginning to be heard, as fire services only attended 299 fires in Bradford between January and November 2014, compared to 344 throughout the whole year in 2013.
"It's just so important that people have their smoked detectors checked and working,” said Tom Rhodes, Bradford district prevention manager for the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. “Sadly too many take them down off the ceiling or wall when they start chirruping as the battery goes flat, and then don't put them back properly. People say, 'Oh I'll do that next week' - but fire alarms are essential, please do it now.”
He recommended that householders should check their existing alarms’ batteries and make sure they have a working alarm for their top floor, as well as near large electrical appliances, which are high-risk, yet often-overlooked areas.
Mr Rhodes added that there were over 900 fires in the UK last year where fire alarms did not work that resulted in death or serious injury.