Above: The reconstruction of a bedsit fire at Broughton Fire Station's open day.
Two fire safety leaflets aimed at students and other people sharing homes - Protect yourself and Fire safety for people in shared or rented accommodation - are available for download here, along with a student poster highlighting the hazards of trying to cook after drinking.
11 September 2009
Students who are about to move away from home to live in shared or rented accommodation are being urged to keep safe from fire.
The plea comes from firefighters and community safety staff at Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service. Community safety manager Terry Ridgley said: "With so much else going on at the start of the university or college year, we appreciate that the typical student is unlikely to be giving much thought to domestic duties such as cleaning rotas, bills or the possibility of having a fire.
"Students need to be aware of fire safety issues in their new homes. Fires can cause huge devastation, so the effort of fitting and regularly checking a smoke alarm means you, your friends and your possessions will be safe.”
Terry is particularly keen to discourage students – and anyone else for that matter – from attempting to cook after coming back from the pub. Safer options if you’re hungry late at night are fruit, sandwiches and ice cream.
He is also reminding smokers never to smoke in bed, and to make sure cigarettes are put out properly.
Terry added: “We are also urging housemates to think about the escape route they would take in the event of a fire. It’s obviously much better to think about this in advance than to have to make it up while you’re in the middle of a real emergency.”
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service wants to get these messages across to anyone who is about to start further education in Buckinghamshire or Milton Keynes, or who is about to enter university or college life elsewhere in the country, and who will be living in rented, shared or bedsit-style accommodation.
Firefighters gave a dramatic demonstration at this year’s open day at Broughton Fire Station in July showing just how quickly a typical bedsit could go up in flames. Within two minutes of a firefighter setting light to a specially-constructed furnished room, it was full of smoke and engulfed in flames.
Simple tips for keeping safe from fire in student accommodation are:
- Fit smoke alarms on each level of the house and test them weekly. Click here for more information about safety checks and smoke alarms provided by the fire and rescue service covering the area you live in.
- Don't attempt to cook while under the influence of alcohol, and don't leave cooking unattended.
- Take extra care with cigarettes and smoking materials and never smoke in bed – when a cigarette is finished, put it out, right out!
- Don't overload plug sockets.
- Switch off electrical appliances like mobile chargers and hair straighteners when not in use.
- Never leave candles or tea lights unattended and ensure that they are put in safe holders.
- Check furniture has the permanent fire-resistant label.
- Practise an escape route with your housemates.
- If a fire starts, get out, stay out and dial 999.
If you live in Buckinghamshire or Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will carry out a free fire safety check in your home and fit free smoke alarms where necessary. To book an appointment, fill in the online form, ring 01296 744477 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org