Firefighters renew safety plea over smoking after two fatalities

Thu 26 Mar, 2015

Firefighters have renewed their fire safety plea to people who smoke following two deaths in the space of just over two weeks.

On Saturday 7 March, the body of a woman was found and another woman was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital following a fire at a house in Springfield Road, Stokenchurch. (See news release issued on 8 March).

On Monday this week (23 March), the body of a woman was found after a fire in the bedroom of a flat in Kiln Court, Holtspur. (See news release issued on 24 March).

Investigations by Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service have concluded that both these fires were caused by careless disposal of cigarettes. This covers a number of scenarios, including falling asleep while smoking, and not putting cigarettes out properly.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mick Osborne said: "Although people are aware of the health risks associated with smoking, many are surprised that something as small as a cigarette can pose such a significant fire risk with the potential to kill.

"It will, of course, be for the coroner to determine the causes of death following these two tragedies. The latest Government statistics show us the overall picture in England, which is that careless disposal of cigarettes is responsible for a third of all accidental house fires that go on to result in a death."

Mick is urging smokers to take note of the following advice, which was issued earlier this month in the run-up to the national No Smoking Day campaign:

  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended. They can easily overbalance.
  • Never smoke in bed, and take care when you’re tired. If you need to lie down, don’t light up.
  • Put out cigarettes carefully and dispose of them thoughtfully when outdoors or driving. Don't flick them out of cars.
  • Use child-resistant lighters and matchboxes, and keep them where children can't reach them.
  • Tap your ash into a proper ashtray, never a wastebasket containing other rubbish - and don't let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol when smoking. It’s easy to lose your concentration and this could be lethal when combined with smoking.
  • Fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly or monthly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will carry out a free safety check to identify potential fire risks in your home, advise what to do to reduce or prevent them and fit free smoke alarms if required. Ring 01296 744477 or email to book one of these visits.

For advice on giving up smoking, visit: