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Festive fire safety warning

Cumbria County Council-Festive fire safety warning Credit: ITV Border News

The risk of dying in an accidental house fire increases by 50% over the festive season so firefighters are calling on Cumbria’s households to put fire safety at the top of their Christmas lists.

Last year there were 27 house fires between 15 December and 5 January compared to 17 from 15 January to 5 February 2014.

“While of course we want people to have a merry and relaxing Christmas and New Year, it’s important that everyone is aware of the potential fire dangers around the home during the festive season.

Just taking a few basic precautions though can prevent what should be one of the most enjoyable times of the year turning to tragedy.”

– Ian Cartwright, Cumbria’s County Council's Chief Fire Officer

Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is issuing the following hints and tips for festive fire safety:

  • Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on all levels of your home. Test your smoke alarms weekly and never remove batteries.
  • Never leave cooking unattended and avoid cooking while under the influence of alcohol. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.
  • Never leave candles unattended. Keep decorations, cards and wrapping paper away from candles, fires, lights and heaters.
  • Ensure you switch off Christmas tree and fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check your lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).
  • Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store.
  • Don’t overload sockets – ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
  • When dry, real Christmas trees can take less than a minute to completely involve a room in fire so it’s essential real trees are kept in a suitable stand that can be topped up with water.
  • Always use a fire guard on a real open fire to protect against flying sparks and hot embers. Also make sure embers are properly out before going to bed.
  • Make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and never smoke in bed. Put it out, right out.
  • Check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas to ensure their safety at this time of year.
  • In the event of fire - get out, stay out and call 999.

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Firefighters on strike attend Carlisle fire

It's thought the fire was not serious Credit: ITV Border

One of Carlisle's main roads was closed last night after a blaze broke out during the firefighters strike.

Traffic was diverted as thick smoke drifted across the area. Despite the industrial action, crews did attend the scene on Scotland Road at Cross Street and quickly brought the fire under control.

The strike was the longest the service has taken in three years Credit: ITV Border

The 24-hour strike officially ended at 9am today, Friday 13 June. It's the latest industrial action taken in a three-year dispute over pensions.

Nearly 100 Cumbrian firefighters took part strike

32 fire engines were available county-wide on Friday, 30 on Saturday and 34 on Sunday Credit: ITV Border

More than 90 firefighters in Cumbria took part in the national strike last weekend. The three day strike was in response to a dispute with the Government over pensions.

Of 600 firefighters, 94 took part in the strike on Friday, 96 on Saturday and 97 on Sunday.

15 incidents were dealt with by the Fire Service during this time.

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Photographer awarded for rescue of flood victim

Pensioner Elizabeth Young would have died back in January after she became trapped in her car during a severe flood.

Amateur photographer Colin Smithson spotted Elizabeth's plight as he took pictures of the flood.

He then risked his own life to help her to safety.

Today Colin was officially honoured for his bravery.

At a special ceremony at Cumbria Fire and Rescue HQ, the 64-year-old from Kirkbride near Wigton, was officially honoured for saving the life of Elizabeth Young earlier this year.

Four hour rescue to save cow

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service have spent four hours rescuing a cow from a slurry pit.

Officers were called to Priory Farm at Armathwaite at about 6:30pm yesterday, Monday 7 April.

It took 11 officers to rescue the pregnant animal.

"It was a good hardworking job that was a successful rescue. It's a good reminder of the varying roles that fire fighters undertake to help the public."

– Eddie Burrows, Cumbria Fire and Rescue

Hoax caller fears

Hoax callers are risking the lives of residents across Cumbria, with hundreds of malicious calls made in just 12 months. The warning comes from fire service bosses after it was revealed that more than 330 malicious calls were made to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service in 2013.

New number for non-emergencies

Cumbria Fire Service has launched a new non-emergency phone number.

Anyone wanting to find out more about home safety checks, report non-emergency fire risks or make general enquiries can ring 0300 303 8623.

Callers can then press one to report a fire risk, two for a home safety check, three for human resources and four for general enquiries.

The fire service says non-urgent fire risks could include potential wildfire hazards or the unsafe storage of combustible materials.

The number will be in operation 24 hours a day.

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