FIREFIGHTERS have urged the public to help prevent devastating electrical fires striking their homes.
Every day Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews respond to an average of two house fires caused by the misuse of electrical equipment, faulty leads and appliances.
The emergencies can devastate lives and the service has teamed-up with the UK Chief Fire Officers Association to help people recognise the risks.
It also joining London Fire Brigade in calling for a single, easily accessible register of recalled faulty electrical products.
Assistant Chief Officer David McGown, the SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “House fires have a terrible impact and basic precautions with electrical devices really could prevent tragedies.
“Even if no-one is killed or seriously injured a fire in the home will often cause deep emotional trauma.
“The loss of cherished and irreplaceable possessions, the damage to a person’s confidence and their feeling of being safe, and of course the terrible financial impact can take a very long time to get over.
“Everyone needs to understand fire isn’t something that only happens to other people. It can happen to anyone and we all need to act to keep ourselves, our homes and our communities safe.”
Over the past five years crews throughout Scotland have been called to more than 3,840 house fires where an electrical appliance was the source of ignition.
Nearly 1,800 of the fires were sparked by wiring, cabling and plugs.
Kitchen appliances known as ‘white goods’ accounted for 1,210 of the fires, including 425 that began at washing machines, 371 at tumble-dryers, 203 at dishwashers, 141 at fridge-freezers, 51 at combined washer-dryers and 19 at spin-dryers.
While some devices like fridge-freezers are designed to be left on at all times most are not –and leaving them on risks starting a potentially devastating fire.
Firefighters are clear people need to switch off and unplug such appliances as part of their night-time routine and whenever they leave the house.
They also want people to register their appliances with a website that enables manufacturers to get in touch with them if a product identified as potentially dangerous needs to be recalled for repair or to be replaced.
ACO McGown explained: “Currently we recommend that the public use www.registermyappliance.org.uk to check if their household appliances are safe.
“In the small number of cases where manufacturers identify potential safety issues with particular appliances it’s important that information gets to people who have them in their homes.
“This is a great resource that means manufacturers can contact people who may have an appliance that could put them at risk.
“It represents over 85 per cent of the domestic appliance industry and nearly 90 per cent of white goods brands and it, so householders should put registering appliances at the top of their to-do list.
“We want a service that goes even further though, so that 100 per cent of the industry and white goods brands are included.”
He continued: “A single register should also include international products sold in the UK.
“At the moment, if a product is recalled due to a fault in another country, and you own exactly same model in the UK, the manufacturers don't have to send out a recall notice in the UK.
“We all use electrical appliances. We all could benefit from a single register. That is why we’re suggesting people show their support by signing London Fire Brigade’s petition.”
More information on the LFB petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-call-for-a-single-easily-accessible-register-of-recalled-faulty-electrical-products.
Crews throughout Scotland are also available to conduct free home fire safety visits, which see local firefighters share their professional advice with residents to prevent fires and the tragedies they cause.
Firefighters want the public to put them in touch with anyone who may be at increased risk so they can be offered potentially life-saving support to stay safe and feel safe in their homes.
The visits are available by calling SFRS on the freephone number 0800 073 1999, by texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or by filling in an online form at www.firescotland.gov.uk.
ACO McGown added: “Even where every precaution is taken fire can still happen, so it’s essential that every home has adequate fire detection in place.
“If an appliance does catch fire then working smoke alarms and heat alarms provide people with early warning that buys them time to get out, call 999 and for help to arrive.”