Smokers urged to take extra care following fire

Mon 28 Jul, 2014

Firefighters are urging smokers to take extra care following a fire in High Wycombe last night (Sunday 27 July).

A crew from High Wycombe Fire Station was called to a bedroom fire in a maisonette in Micklefield Road shortly after 8pm.

Watch Manager Stuart Grosse said: “The occupier has been smoking in her bedroom and emptied the contents of her ashtray into a plastic shopping bag she was using as a bin bag.

“The bag was full of paper, and after she left the bedroom it caught light.

“The occupier extinguished the fire herself, and suffered a very minor burn in the process.”

Firefighters cut away an area of burnt carpet, carried out a safety check and fitted a smoke alarm as there were none at the property.

Nationally, a third of all deaths in fires in the home are caused by cigarettes. Despite a fall in the overall number of fires caused as a result of people smoking, it’s still the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home across the country. 

Last year there were 22 smoking-related fires in Buckinghamshire and 24 in Milton Keynes. The fires led to one death and two injuries.

Stuart offered the following safety advice:

  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended. They can easily overbalance. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you smoke in the garden, use a sand-filled pot as an outdoor ashtray.
  • Use child-resistant lighters and matchboxes, and keep them where children can't reach them. 
  • 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 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.