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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Ballymena Station Commander Alan Barr offers great advice to stay safe over Christmas

Ballymena Fire Station.

Ballymena Station Commander, Alan Barr, has issued some great advice to help stay safe from fire risk in the home at this time of the year.

It comes as Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) launch the Winter Fire Safety Campaign, which runs until the end February 2022.

The aim of this campaign is to promote fire safety in the home, specifically in relation to the increased risks over this period.

The winter period is a high risk time of year with 217 accidental house fires last year taking place during this 3 month period. In addition, tragically there has been an increase in people dying in accidental house fires this year.

The devastation caused by a fire in the home.

From January 2021 there have been 9 recorded fire deaths in accidental dwelling fires, which is an increase from 5 the previous year.

NIFRS are therefore asking everyone to help raise fire safety awareness this winter in their own homes, with friends and family and throughout the community, especially to those living alone.

The top cause of accidental fires in the home during winter time is cooking, followed by electrics and careless use of smoking materials.

Over winter, and especially during Christmas, many additional fire dangers are introduced into the home, such as candles, Christmas tree lights, open fires and portable heaters.

These additional dangers, in combination with the increase in alcohol consumption over the festive period, can result in a greater likelihood of fires starting accidently.

Station Commander Alan Barr from Ballymena District, NIFRS offers the following winter fire safety advice:

· Most fires start in the kitchen – never leave a cooker unattended. Keep flammable items such as oven mitts, tea towels and cables away from the cooker top.

· Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard. Don’t use lights with worn or frayed cables. Turn off lights at night or when you are leaving the house.

· Never overload electrical sockets; some indicators of overloaded sockets include scorch marks or blackness around the socket or plug, sparks coming from a plug or appliance or the smell of hot plastic near the plug or socket.

· Never place candles near your Christmas tree or furnishings and don’t leave them burning unattended. Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children.

· Decorations can burn easily – don’t attach them to lights or heaters.

· Celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents is greater after alcohol is consumed as it can make you drowsy and forgetful.

· Test your smoke alarm every week to make sure it is working.

· Have a bedtime routine which includes switching off electrics, ensuring your cooker is off, extinguishing candles and cigarettes and closing doors to protect your escape route.

· Make sure your family and guests staying for the festive period know what to do in an emergency. Make a fire escape plan and keep escape routes clear.

· Take the time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas; make sure they are fire safe.

NIFRS provides free Home Fire Safety Checks to people at risk.

People at risk are those members of the community aged over 50; who have a disability or impaired mobility; or are receiving assistance from a partner agency.

If you think you or someone you know is eligible please contact NIFRS at and click on the Home Fire Safety Check icon or contact NIFRS on 028 92664221 and ask about a Home Fire Safety Check.

Also a new video will be posted on the NIFRS website targeted to fire safety for children; you can find it here:

Station Commander Barr would like to wish everyone a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year.


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