A chief fire investigation officer has told an inquest that a fire guard would have prevented the death of four children in a house fire in Derby.

CFIO Chris Smith told the inquest at Derby Coroner's Court that: "The most likely cause of the fire was accidental ignition of items around the fire; hot coal or a burning log falling from the open fire, or a hot wooden ember being ejected from the fire."

When asked whether a fire guard would have been prevented by a fire guard he replied "in my opinion, yes" before adding that the lack of a working fire or smoke alarm in the property also contributed to the impact of the fire.

Clint Eyre, partner of the children's mother said the family had considered getting a fire grate but did not think it was a "life or death matter".

The inquest continues but the findings have already prompted many fire services to give renewed safety warnings over the use of open fires.

Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service reported that they have attended 141 chimney fires in the county this year and their Risk Reductionn manager Stuart Garner said: "People should be extra cautious over the winter months as cold weather can increase the risk of fire within the home.

"I would strongly recommend that you have your chimney swept regularly and only burn suitable fuel. Do not over load your fireplace, make sure your fire is out before you leave the house or go to bed, and keep any heating appliances away from curtains, furniture and other flammable materials."

Click here for further safety advice from Oxon FRS
Posted 20/12/2011 by richard.hook@pavpub.com