Smoke alarms - pull your finger out!
Pull Your Finger Out!

15 January 2008

Four out of five people who own smoke alarms are risking their safety by not checking them often enough.

The figure has emerged from a survey marking the launch this morning of a government fire safety campaign called Pull Your Finger Out!

Now Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is urging residents in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes to check their smoke alarms once a week – and to have smoke alarms fitted if they do not already have them.

According to the survey, more than 90 per cent of homes in the area already have smoke alarms. But in more than 80 per cent of those homes, people are not regularly pushing the test buttons to check that their alarms actually work.

Terry Ridgley, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said:: “Despite the fact a high number of people own smoke alarms, a disturbing number do not maintain their alarms on a weekly basis.

“The message is simple – smoke alarms save lives, but only if they work! We’re urging residents to pull their fingers out and test their smoke alarms – this simple action could save the lives of their loved ones.”

A new wave of TV advertising is accompanying the campaign. Fronted by Julie Walters, it highlights the devastating and potentially fatal consequences of not testing your alarm often enough. Running from today until 9 March, the advertisements show the aftermath of a fire in the home with a burnt out kitchen providing the backdrop to the scene. 

Apathy seems to be the main reason that people do not test their smoke alarms, with about half of the people surveyed attributing forgetfulness, being too busy or simply saying they can’t be bothered to do something that only takes a few seconds, but could potentially save their lives.

Ensuring you stay safe from fire is quick and simple. Here are Terry’s five essential fire safety tips to help you protect yourself, your family and your home from fire:

1 - Fit a smoke alarm on each level of the property. When a fire starts, you only have a few minutes to escape, so an early warning is vital. Make sure you replace battery operated smoke alarm units after 10 years. Alternatively consider installing a 10-year battery smoke alarm or mains powered alarm.

2 - Test it weekly - a working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out. Once you're out, stay out and dial 999.

3 - Plan your escape route - make sure you and your family know the quickest way out in the event of fire. Consider an alternative route in case your usual one is blocked.

4 – Stay safe in the kitchen - this is the area where most house fires start.  It only takes a minute to check electrical appliances are switched off.  Also, never leave cooking unattended.

5 – Ask the experts - Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service offers free home fire risk checks to identify potential fire risks and advise what to do to reduce or prevent them. To find out more, ring 01296 744477 or send an email to