Release date: 10 July 2020
Something as simple as closing a door can help prevent the spread of fire and toxic smoke in a home by up to 20 minutes. That’s the advice from a firefighter who oversaw the response to a house fire in the county earlier this week.
Station Manager Jim McGrath was mobilised to a fire involving a family home on Winchester Road in Crawley on Tuesday shortly before midday.
Upon arrival, the crews from Crawley and Horsham fire stations were relieved to find that the family had all escaped from the property quickly. They had also managed to close their upstairs doors as they made their way out, containing the fire to the first floor bedroom and landing area.
Jim said: “Responding to a fire involving somebody’s home is probably one of the worst calls that we can receive. Knowing that someone’s place of safety is under threat makes us even more determined to do all that we can to save as much of the property as possible.
“Thankfully on this occasion, the family made a split-second decision in what must have been terrifying circumstances to close their internal doors behind them as they left the building.
“I am under no doubt that this decision prevented the further spread of fire throughout the building, and allowed us to bring the fire under control quickly.
“The family fortunately had a working smoke alarm fitted on each level of their property, which gave them plenty of warning that something was wrong.”
Once the fire was extinguished, the firefighters remained at the scene providing fire safety advice to neighbouring properties. They also installed smoke alarms at properties that did not already have them installed.
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service attended 428 house fires during 2018/19. The service is urging all residents across the county to remember to close their doors when they go to bed at night, and when they leave their property in a bid to try and reduce the damage caused by fires.
Nicki Peddle is West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s Head of Prevention. She said: “Containing a fire to the room of origin for up to 20 minutes can mean the difference between getting your family out safely and the property being saved, and losing your home to fire.
“It’s such a simple thing to do, but makes a real difference at the crucial moment. Just remember to do it each night or before you leave the house. Set an alarm on your phone, ask Alexa to remind you or put a post-it note on your front door to help you remember.”
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is giving away an Alexa dot to one lucky winner in July to help them remember to Shut Fires Out. To enter and be in with the chance of winning, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/ShutFiresOut.
If you are worried about a vulnerable person who might be at risk of fire you can refer them for free Safe & Well advice. Even under lockdown we can do this via Skype, telephone call or by handing out our handy booklet. Where appropriate they’ll fit smoke alarms or other specialist fire detection equipment free of charge. For more information visit https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/west-sussex-fire-and-rescue-service/home-fire-safety/safe-and-well-visit/