Forgotten heroes – remember to test your smoke alarms

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has reminded residents to test their smoke alarms, after research released by the Fire Kills campaign showed that only 28% of households who own a smoke alarm test them on a regular basis.

There were 229 fire-related deaths in UK homes last year*, and RBFRS hopes that by encouraging more people to test their “forgotten heroes” more deaths can be prevented.

In the event of a fire, correctly functioning smoke alarms can provide a vital early warning system, which could make all the difference in preventing harm to yourself or your loved ones.

As well as supporting the Fire Kills campaign, throughout the year RBFRS delivers a wide range of prevention activities and initiatives often in partnership with other agencies. One of RBFRS’s central commitments to the residents of Berkshire is to educate people on how to prevent fires and other emergencies, and what to do when they happen.

For example, RBFRS runs a Home Fire Safety Check (HFSC) programme that targets groups of people considered to be most vulnerable and therefore, most at risk. During a HFSC, an operative fits smoke detectors in a resident’s home or checks them if they have already been fitted, and provides them with safety and wellbeing messaging at the same time. RBFRS also works in partnership with the six unitary authorities to support various community activities by providing key fire safety messaging and support.

To help keep you and your loved ones safe, RBFRS has offered the following advice:

  • Test your smoke alarms now or when you get home. Then get into the habit of testing them weekly, even if they’re wired into the mains.
  • Never remove the batteries in your smoke alarms unless you are replacing them. Batteries should generally be changed every year. (unless it is a tenyear alarm).
  • Take time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours as they are at greater risk from fire, and test their smoke alarms for them.
  • Twice a year gently vacuum your alarms to remove dust.
  • Every ten years the entire smoke alarm should be replaced.

Councillor Christine Bateson, Community Safety Member Champion said: “It is so important that we keep our residents safe – including our elderly in Berkshire. Should there be a fire in their property it is important that they have a proper working smoke alarm because this can save lives.”

Iain Harrison, Group Manager for Prevention said: “Working smoke alarms provide a vital early warning sign in case of fire. But if you ignore them throughout the year, they won’t be there for you in your time of need, so spend a few seconds every week checking them to make sure they are working.” 

Visit www.gov.uk/firekills for more information.