Older people living with mental health issues are often at greater risk of fire deaths, according to London Fire Brigade (LFB) deputy commissioner Rita Dexter.

Statistics from the Brigade showed that over the past year, half of the 33 people who died in fires across London were aged over 60 and receiving care.

Writing on www.communitycare.co.uk, DC Dexter said: "The London Fire Brigade believes many deaths involving older people [with mental health issues] could be avoided if sprinklers were fitted.

"All residential care homes and sheltered accommodation should have sprinklers to protect those who are most at risk in the event of a fire. This is already the case for newly built care homes in Scotland and it is time England followed suit. But we also believe that there is a strong case for the installation of domestic sprinklers where the risk factors and evidence support it.

She also urged those working with potentially vulnerable adults to work more with the LFB to help identify and reduce risks to older people.

LFB have laid out five key fire risks for carers to note:

1) Smoke alarms - smoke alarms help alert people to a fire and everyone should have one. 

2) Mobility issues - someone who cannot move freely will struggle to escape in the event of a fire. When considering other factors, think about fire escape.

3) Smoking and smoking materials - people who smoke are at an increased risk as cigarettes are a ready-made source of ignition. What support might you give to ensure their choice to smoke is as safe as possible?

4) Scorch marks - for example on bedding or the carpet, or worse still burns on a person, are a sign of a near miss.

5) Rubbish and hoarding - if someone has lots of clutter around their home a fire may spread more rapidly.

For more information on reducing fire risk visit www.london-fire.gov.uk 

This article originally appeared on our sister site www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk posted 11/06/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com