The innovative idea has already sparked interest from other services, which are following the progress of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service's new project.  

The web pages have now gone live in a bid to coincide with National Electrical Safety Week, January 24-30. 

There are currently two example cases on the site of fires caused by electrical equipment and another caused by a battery powered mobility scooter.  

The service is unveiling the site to widely highlight potential causes of fire, and important safety messages that the public may not be aware of - including the importance of electrical safety. 

It is hoped that the site will be a more tangible, interesting and an effective way to get fire safety messages across.    

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Serviceweb pages will contain case histories from real fires that have occurred in East Sussex; detailing the cause and circumstances of the fires and will often include a powerful impact statement from those that were affected.  

The long-term aim of this newly created Black Museum is to build up a library of images and stories from a range of different incidents, which the public can view and actively learn safety messages from. 

Just some of the incidents featured include damage caused by a shed fire spreading to a house, an electrical fire, the benefits of installing a sprinkler system, hidden dangers of a shaving mirror and what can happen when a mobility scooter catches fire. 

The Black Museum was the idea of Lead Fire Investigation Officer Mark Hobbs, who wanted to find a more effective and interesting way of relaying life-saving messages. 

He said: "As a fire officer, I am very aware of the many and unusual ways that a fire can start and also the very real dangers that arise. I feel strongly that our communities need to be able to share our knowledge and experiences so that they are better informed of potential fire hazards and how they can take action to minimise them.    

"The Black Museum immediately brings these safety messages to life and can help change people's perceptions in an instant and they are much more likely to listen to what we have to tell them." 

Mark hopes that the new website will be used in various ways, including providing firefighters and Home Safety Visit teams with another tool to use when providing fire safety advice to the public where they can refer residents to the website link, so that they can see for themselves some of the things that we in the Fire and Rescue Service are already aware of.  

It may also help to prompt a business to upgrade fire precautions, as they see the benefits of good fire precautions in some of our example cases.  

Mark came up with the idea because he wanted to change people's perception that fire can never happen to them. 

He said: "Unfortunately safety messages of any sort can be a bit of a dull subject and the Black Museum will make it much more interesting and real." 

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Servicealready has a physical Black Museum, which is very successful. Hopefully this web-based version will have the ability to take our message to a much wider audience. We would also really like the public to contact us and give us their feedback and personal experiences of fire - especially if unusual.  

The Black Museum web pages will be regularly updated as East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service attends more unusual causes of fire. 

View the museum at 


Date posted: 24.01.11