Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging the county’s residents to sign up to their free smoke alarm reminder service – www.pressthebutton.co.uk – as part of a new campaign.
They are backed by Rachael Shaw, a mum from Sheffield who had her home in Parsons Cross destroyed by fire earlier this year.
Rachael, her partner and daughter were in bed one night in April when working smoke alarms alerted them to an electrical fire in the living room below.
The fire had developed quickly and thick smoke prevented them from escaping – meaning they had to be rescued from a bedroom window by firefighting crews.
And now, with their house still in ruins, they are living proof that, as South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) regularly reminds people, smoke alarms save lives.
“Luckily we heard the smoke alarm and smelt the smoke. If it wasn’t for the smoke alarm, realistically we wouldn’t have known. It never crossed my mind that the house was on fire.
“Smoke alarms… I never thought they were that important and now they’ve literally saved our lives.”
Speaking of the service’s new campaign, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, officers say they’re hoping they can motivate people to stop procrastinating and ensure they have alarms in place.
Latest figures released by SYFR show that out of the 486 accidental dwelling fires crews dealt with last year, 102 of the homes attended didn’t have any smoke alarms.
A deeper look at incident data then shows that in the 384 cases where smoke alarms were present, not all of them sounded – either due to them not working or not being positioned correctly.
This makes 238 instances in 2019 where smoke alarms either weren’t present or didn’t sound – this is 49 percent of the 486 houses fires attended by firefighters.
“We’ve spent over a decade now asking people to ensure they have working smoke alarms, and test them regularly,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the police and fire community safety team.
“Lots of people have and we’re truly grateful to them but, as these figures show, at almost half of the fires we attended last year there were either no smoke alarms, or the ones present didn’t work as they should.
“Our ask is really clear – we want people to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home. Then, we want them to make a habit of testing them weekly.
“We offer a free weekly reminder service that people can sign up to and for anybody that needs extra support, we offer home safety checks that can be booked through our website.
“The incident involving Rachael and her family is a really clear example of how important smoke alarms can be – get them, fit them, test them.”