Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has teamed up with the North East Council on Addictions (NECA) to protect vulnerable people from the risk of fire in their homes.

Under the partnership, anyone accessing NECA's services will be given the opportunity to be referred for a free home safety check from the fire and rescue service.

TWFRS is also training NECA staff to help them to identify fire risks in the home, to enable them to help keep their service users safe.

Community Relationship Manager Shaun Kelly said: "This is the first time we have entered into a Service-wide agreement with a drug and alcohol service. 

"Prevention and education are major areas of our work. By training NECA staff to recognise potential fire risks we will have people on the ground who have built up a position of trust with their service users and can therefore get vital fire safety messages across."

NECA is the largest regional charity working in the field of substance misuse to reduce the physical, psychological and social harms that result from alcohol and drug abuse.

Their chief executive, Cynthia Atkinson, said: "We are very pleased to be working in close partnership with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to jointly communicate the importance of fire safety awareness to people accessing and engaging with our services. 

"We are fully committed to the development and delivery of this community safety initiative, and will ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to be referred to the fire service to access a free home safety check."

Tyne and Wear offers free home safety checks to people who are at more risk of having a fire. This includes checking that people have working smoke alarms and that they are situated in the right place, as well as fitting smoke alarms if required; 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.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Baines concluded: "One of our main priorities as a fire and rescue service is to protect vulnerable people in our communities by keeping them safe from fire. 

"Drug and alcohol users are some of our most vulnerable and difficult to reach residents. By working closely with NECA we will be able to ensure that people accessing their services are safer in their own homes, which will also help to make the rest of the community safer from the risk of fire."

Posted 30/11/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com