South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Graphic featuring the words 'YESTERDAY YOU SAID TOMORROW' that encourages people to test their smoke alarms.

Smoke alarm plea as ‘cost of living’ fires begin to surface

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are urging people to ‘save safely’ this winter and, importantly, ensure they have working carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in their homes.

The plea comes following recent incidents across the county where residents have burned inappropriate and potentially toxic materials to warm their homes, as opposed to using their usual method of heating.

One recent case saw an occupant overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of burning coal, in a tin bucket, in their living room.

And whilst fire officers recognise the financial squeeze that lots of people are currently facing, they are asking residents to not put themselves at risk.

“We know times are tough”

“We know times are tough for lots of people right now, but the pattern we are seeing around unsafe heating in homes is concerning,” said Area Manager Matt Gillatt, head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“Our ask is that people ensure they save safely, take extra care when it comes to using things like log burners and electric blankets, and please don’t use tin buckets or small gas cylinders to heat your homes – they aren’t safe.

“We would then strongly urge people to ensure they have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted in their properties. These are life-saving devices that will give you early warning should you be at risk.”

Recent changes to the law mean that anyone in rented or council homes should be provided with a carbon monoxide detector by their landlord.

Meanwhile the fire service in South Yorkshire offers a completely free smoke alarm testing reminder service.

Residents simply have to input a phone number or email address and they will be reminded, each week, to ensure their alarms are working.

This, officers say, could potentially save a life further down the line.

“They really do save lives” 

“Smoke alarms don’t get the credit they deserve – they really do save lives. But they can only save you if they are working,” added Matt.

“By testing and dusting them regularly, you ensure they are working should you ever need them. And don’t just take our word for it, either.

“Our figures show that there have been 791 instances in the last three years where a smoke alarm has sounded and given occupants early warning of a fire in their home.

“Unfortunately, there were 430 cases where smoke alarms weren’t present or didn’t work. Needless to say, the fire damage was worse in these cases.”

You can sign up to the service’s free smoke alarm reminder service at – doing so before the end of the year will see you entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Amazon gift voucher.

There is then more information on smoke alarms at

This content was last updated on November 01st, 2022