Suffolk: Cause for alarm - shock figures reveal homeowners are ignoring safety warnings by failing to fit smoke detectors

SUFFOLK: Fire chiefs issued a stark warning today after figures revealed homeowners are ignoring advice and failing to fit smoke detectors.

The Evening Star has learnt that of the 443 house fires in Suffolk last year, nearly half DID NOT have an alarm.

This is despite experts claiming working smoke detectors – which retail for as little as �5 – are the single most important fire safety tool and can double the chance of surviving a blaze.

In 2010/11, crews were called to 443 house fires – of these, 185 (41.8 per cent) did not have a smoke alarm fitted.

That figure is an increase in both real and percentage terms compared with a year earlier when firefighters attended 390 house blazes, of which 148 (38pc) did not have detectors.

The rise came despite the fire service carrying out more Home Fire Safety Checks and Homeshield Plus home visits in 2010/11.

There were five fire deaths last year - an increase on the two in 2009/10.

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Councillor Colin Spence, pictured, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection, urged homeowners to protect themselves.

“Working smoke alarms are a simple, inexpensive and really effective way of ensuring you and your family are alerted to and escape from a fire in your home.

“Positioning your alarm out of sight and mind can render it as useless as removing the batteries altogether. Make sure you have an alarm on the ceiling of every floor of your home and that you test it regularly once it’s in place.”

Figures seen by the Star also reveal that of the homes attended by crews in Suffolk last year which did have a smoke alarm, nearly one in seven were not working.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman reminded residents to fit alarms in appropriate places – after home safety checks found some in unusual locations including on cupboard shelves, windowsills and even coat pockets.

While the majority of households nationally now own a smoke alarm, as many as one in four fail in a house fire because the smoke did not reach it or the batteries were missing or flat.

n Has a smoke alarm saved your life? Contact the newsdesk on 01473 324790 or you can send an e-mail to