Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has joined forces with the Newcastle Care at Home Service to help make people receiving care in their homes safer from fire. The announcement comes as Carers Week, which aims to highlight the huge impact and contribution carers make to society, and runs between June 13-19. 

The partnership has seen over 200 carers employed by Newcastle City Council's Care at Home Service receive training to signpost people who use its services to the Fire and Rescue Service for a priority home safety check. This includes checking that people have working smoke alarms and that they are situated in the right place; ensuring that they have a fire escape plan in place should a fire break out in their home and that they are aware of the importance of a safe night time routine, such as closing doors, unplugging electrical equipment and safe disposal of cigarettes. In addition carers will be trained to recognise fire hazards within the home. 

Where people are identified as being more at risk of fire, for example, if they don't have a working smoke alarm, Newcastle City Council's Care at Home staff will make a 'fast track' referral to the fire and rescue service to ensure that smoke alarms are fitted and other fire safety measures are put in place as soon as possible. 

Carers are also being trained to carry out night time fire safety routines for those service users who may be bed-bound and cannot do this for themselves. 

District Manager Tony Markwell, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our society are protected from fire in their homes is a top priority for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. Working with organisations like Newcastle City Council's Care at Home Service is a fantastic way of reaching as many of these people as possible through their existing links.  The carers have an excellent relationship with service users and are able to deliver fire safety advice in a way that suits the individual, using their knowledge and expertise to ensure that it will be effective."  

Service Manager Chris Dugdale, from Newcastle City Council's Care at Home, added: "This is an excellent example of services working together to improve fire prevention for our most vulnerable citizens.  The staff have enjoyed the excellent training provided by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and are very enthusiastic about putting it into practice with all our service users." 

One couple who have already benefited from the service are Alan and Mary Harle from Hazelrigg, Newcastle. Alan, 97, is bed-bound and carers visit their home three times a day. The couple were referred to the fire and rescue service by one of their carers, Wendy Caldwell. 

Wendy said: "Alan and Mary needed smoke alarms fitting and an overall fire safety check. I think the scheme is a fabulous idea and it's something I do with all my service users now. It's also made me check my own smoke alarms every week and my family's - wherever I go really." 

Mrs Harle, who is 91, said: "I feel a lot safer now. I turn everything off at night before I go to bed and I don't have to worry so much about what would happen to Alan if there was a fire. The carers check the smoke alarms every Monday, so I know they are working properly."  

Tony Markwell continued: "There is lots of help available for carers to help make sure that they and the people they care for are protected - whether it's simple safety advice over the phone or on our website, or by requesting a home safety check.   

"The simplest thing any carer can do to prevent fire in their home is to make a few easy additions to their normal routine. Testing their loved one's smoke alarm weekly could help give them the vital extra seconds they need to escape in a fire, while simple steps such as closing doors at night and avoiding overloaded plug sockets will help reduce the risk in their home.  

"A variety of specialist safety equipment is also available, including vibrating smoke alarms for the hard of hearing and linked alarm systems."  


Posted: 16.44pm, 13.06.11, rachael.haydon@pavpub.com