Fire Service Lowers 'People At Risk' Age To 50 And Older

The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has lowered the age group of those deemed most at risk from accidental house fires to people aged 50 and older.

It follows the death of 19 people in the last three years, 17 of which were aged over 50. Nine of the victims were aged 50-59 and a further eight were 60 and above.

The reduction in age, coupled with other risk factors, will enable the NIFRS to target fire safety resources where they are needed most. The aim is to further reduce the number of accidental house fires and resulting injuries and deaths in Northern Ireland.   

The change in the age group to the 'People at Risk' definition was officially launched yesterday, Monday 15 April, at an event to thank and recognise the contribution of partnership agencies in helping the NIFRS target those within the community who are most at risk from fire. The event also explored what else can be done, via the partnership approach, to better help protect the community.
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Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire and Rescue Officer and Director of Service Delivery commented: "Whilst fire safety is an important issue for everyone, we can't ignore the fact that there are people who because of their age and circumstances are at higher risk. The reality is if you are aged 50 or older you are more at risk from a house fire. It's a stark statistic that over the last 3 years 89.5% of those who have died in accidental house fires were within this age group. 

"Almost 90% of these were people living alone. With an ageing population and a greater emphasis on supporting people to live independently at home, we need to make sure that our fire safety preventative measures are targeted at people most at risk from fire.

"Three years ago we launched our People at Risk Strategy and collaborative working underpinned our approach in helping us reach and target those in our community who needed our help the most.

"Since then Firefighters have completed 13,117 free Home Fire Safety Checks right across Northern Ireland, prioritised towards those most at risk in our community. 33% of these (4,392) were generated directly from a referral from a partnership agency and this is testament to the success of these mutually beneficial relations across the statutory, voluntary and community sectors. I'm confident that this approach has undoubtedly helped save lives within Northern Ireland and enhanced the well-being of so many who fall into our 'at risk' category."

Anyone who is aged 50 or older and is concerned about their fire safety or that of someone in their community can find safety advice or register for a free Home Fire Safety Check by visiting the NIFRS website.


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