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Lichfield woman backs awareness campaign after losing her brother in a house fire

A Lichfield woman who lost her brother in a house fire is backing a campaign to get more people to have home fire risk checks.

New statistics from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service show that between April 2009 and July 2011 131 incidents occurred when people in the affected properties were drunk or had taken drugs. Alcohol was also a factor in 30 per cent of the deaths.

The most common incidents occur when drinkers start preparing a late night snack and then forget about their cooking or they light a cigarette and then fall asleep while it is still lit.

Robert Breese died in an accidental house fire in Burton in December and had been drinking on the night he died.

His sister, Carolyn Parker, who lives in Lichfield, said: “I was very close to my brother. I visited him weekly and spoke to him on the day he died.

“His death came as a horrible shock, we never got to say goodbye to him and it’s awful imagining what he might have gone through as the fire happened. Anything that can help prevent someone else going through the heartache that we have been through has got to be welcomed, so I support the Service trying to raise awareness of the Home Fire Risk Checks amongst those who are alcohol dependent and those who support them.”

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is now hoping the free Home Fire Risk Check could save lives.

“The statistics speak for themselves,” said the service’s head of risk reduction, Ian Sloss. “People who are drunk are putting themselves at increased risk of being involved in a fire.

“A high percentage of these people have to be rescued, or in some cases have died, which indicates the severity of the fires they are involved in. Drinking makes you less alert and more careless, neither of which are a good combination when it comes to fire safety.

“Sometimes the incidents involve social drinkers but we are frequently coming across people who are alcohol dependent. We’d urge drinkers and those who care for people who are alcohol dependent to get in touch with us to arrange a free Home Fire Risk Check. We realise that we can’t stop people from drinking but we can put some prevention measures in place to reduce the risk of a fire occurring.”

Ian Sloss added: “As well as putting fire prevention measures in place we also work alongside our partners in the council, police and health service to encourage sensible drinking – putting fire prevention measures will certainly help to reduce the number of incidents but we need to address the root causes of alcohol and substance misuse in order to see a significant difference.”

To book a free Home Fire Risk Check call 0800 0241 999 or visit the website.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.