Fire fighters to check flats over safety risks

Blocked stairwells can cause safety hazards.
Blocked stairwells can cause safety hazards.

FIFE Council and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are to visit blocks of flats in Kirkcaldy to warn them of the potential dangers.

Teams of fire, housing and community safety officers are visiting blocks of flats in the area over the next few weeks to raise awareness of the dangers if communal areas are not kept clear.

The move to keep people safe in flats was reinforced in the Levenmouth area last year highlighting safety issues around blocked stairwells.

Chair of the council’s Community and Housing Services Committee Judy Hamilton welcomed the initiative, stressing the importance of keeping stairwells safe.

She commented: “Working in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue service we are trying to get the message across that common stairs and closes should be kept clear so that people can escape if there is a fire in the flats.

“We need to work together on this so that residents are aware of the dangers, can keep a look out for their neighbours and play their part in promoting fire safety in their homes.”

Communal areas in flats can become blocked with items including prams, buggies, mobility scooters, sofas, furniture, washing machines, fridges, freezers, bikes, toys and bags of rubbish. These themselves are a fire risk but would also make it difficult for people to escape in the event of fire. During the visits tenants and residents will be asked to remove items if they are found to be blocking the stairs.

Station Manager Iain Brocklebank said: “We carry out regular visits across Fife with our community safety partners to ensure stairwells are kept clear and we would urge people not to leave rubbish or other items in common stairwells.

“Discarded items of furniture and rubbish can produce large amounts of toxic smoke and also impede access for emergency responders.

“You can reduce the risk of fire for yourself and your neighbours by keeping common stairs clear and free from obstruction and making sure main doors are kept locked. Steps should be taken to ensure the door entry/intercom system is working.

“We want everyone to be safe in their homes and cannot stress enough the importance of having a working smoke alarm. That is why we make such a concerted effort in the provision of free Home Fire Safety Visits to ensure everyone has adequate fire detection in place.

“If fire breaks out, a smoke or heat alarm will give you valuable early warning to react and reach a place of safety. And, if you are sleeping, a working alarm could be absolutely vital. Our dedicated firefighters will visit homes, give safety advice, identify potential hazards and escape routes and even installing smoke alarms where appropriate – free of charge.”

If you or someone you know could benefit from a visit, you can request a visit by calling the SFRS free phone number 0800 0731 999.

A wide range of tips on how to keep yourself and your home safe from fire are available on the SFRS website: www.firescotland.gov.uk. Or check out www.fifedirect.org.uk/safercommunities