Northern Ireland FRS is urging everyone to get prepared for the winter weather in readiness for the difficulties and the wide range of emergencies that it can bring. 

Last year over the Christmas period alone (20th December 2010 to 6th January 2011) fire crews responded to nearly 2,000 emergency incidents right across Northern Ireland and many of these were as a direct result of the extreme weather conditions. These included road traffic collisions, flooding incidents and extra fire hazards in the home, such as additional heating systems and fires that had not been lit for some time, which resulted in firefighters attending 65 accidental fires in homes and 262 chimney fires during this period.

Chris Kerr, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said: "I want to reassure the public that their fire and rescue service is well prepared and well-rehearsed in terms of our contingency planning in readiness for severe weather conditions.  This is to ensure that we can maintain our response to emergencies through heavy snow, ice, freezing temperatures, thaw and flooding etc. We are a 'can do' service and we will where at all possible, render humanitarian assistance to help protect our community and help our partner agencies during what can be a very testing time for everyone. 

"What I would ask however is that everyone in Northern Ireland also thinks about their own personal preparedness for the challenges that severe weather may bring.  This is essentially helping us to help you.  

"During periods of extreme winter weather we receive higher volumes of calls for emergency assistance and inevitably the types of incidents firefighters are faced with become more challenging and indeed even accessing those in need during emergency situations becomes more difficult.  It is important for the public to understand what we can and what we cannot respond to. This allows us to help those in real emergency situations. 

"During severe and prolonged weather periods and in particular over Christmas time people remain indoors more and extra fire hazards such as candles, fairy tree lights and portable heaters are introduced into the home. Sometimes people can become complacent about their fire safety during the festivities and I am urging everyone to keep themselves and their families safe over the Christmas period by being extra vigilant to avoid fires in their homes. 

"I would also appeal to drivers to take extra care while driving as winter weather heightens the dangers on our roads. During severe weather only make essential journeys.

"We want people to enjoy themselves and be safe over the coming weeks. If everyone takes just a little extra time to get prepared for winter conditions and to make sure they are following the safety advice then they can help us as a fire and rescue service and help themselves to have a happy and safe Christmas." 

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Posted December 12th, 2011 at 1010 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: