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London Fire Brigade makes millionth safety visit

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 September 2019

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton with Eileen and some of Beckenham's Blue Watch. Picture: LFB

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton with Eileen and some of Beckenham's Blue Watch. Picture: LFB

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The London Fire Brigade has just carried out its millionth home fire safety visit, to a woman in Beckenham.

Eileen with her new smoke alarm from Beckenham Blue Watch who carried out a free check of her home for fire safety. Picture: LFBEileen with her new smoke alarm from Beckenham Blue Watch who carried out a free check of her home for fire safety. Picture: LFB

Known as an HFSV, the London firefighters say they have now covered a quarter of the capital's population.

The landmark millionth HFSV, was marked with commissioner Dany Cotton visiting Beckenham resident Eileen Morgan along with a crew from Beckenham Fire Station's Blue Watch.

They talked to her about fire prevention and gave personalised advice about the common causes of fire, how to carry out bedtime checks and what to do if there is a fire.

The milestone makes London Fire Brigade the first fire service in the country to have visited a million homes and more than two million residents.

HFSVs were introduced in London in April 2005 in a bid to prevent accidental fire deaths and injuries in the home as well as to reduce the number of fires occurring. The scheme aims to encourage changes to behaviours which commonly cause fires.

On the day they were introduced, 80 HFSVs were carried out across London and now firefighters and fire safety officers reach more than 80,000 homes a year to give advice on prevention, detection and escape routes. They also fit smoke alarms for free where needed.

Commissioner Cotton said: "The number of fires at residential properties has been reducing over time which is largely thanks to our prevention work with communities to educate them about the dangers of fire in the home.

"Our HFSVs have changed a lot since I was a frontline firefighter and it was great to join Blue Watch and meet a resident who was so pleased to welcome us and who we were able to give practical tips to on how to stay safe in her home.

"I'm really proud my staff have given potentially life-saving advice to more than two million Londoners and I'd encourage anyone that hasn't had a visit to get in touch and book one."

And Mrs Morgan was delighted too.

The 92-year-old said: "I was very pleased to see the fire engine turn up outside.

"I'm registered as blind and I live alone, so it made a very jolly afternoon having the firefighters visit, who were all so pleasant. It was also lovely to meet the Commissioner and to see a woman in that position - she was just one of the team.

"I was so impressed when one of the firefighters, who was very tall, just got the smoke alarm and fitted it to the ceiling. They did a wonderful job and it's a pity that some people are unaware of these visits being available.

"I am honoured to help mark the millionth visit. They say everyone gets 15 minutes of fame in their lifetime and I've waited 92 years to get mine - and what a great cause to get it with."

HFSVs have evolved since they were first introduced almost 20 years ago and they will continue to change to meet the needs of the public.

The visits are free and anyone is welcome to request one, but they are particularly targeted at vulnerable people.

There are a few red flags which could prompt a faster appointment, such as smoking at home, or if the home owner has limited mobility/a hearing impairment or are blind or partially sighted.

Plus they could have difficulty responding to or escaping from a fire; have had a fire before or signs of burns in the home; have learning disabilities; are supported by family or carers; have mental health conditions such as dementia or depression; have drug or alcohol dependencies; don't have alarms in areas where a fire might start; or collect or hoard in their home.

The brigade said they fit smoke alarm systems for deaf and hard of hearing residents which comprise of an interlinked series of alarms, a vibrating pad and strobe light.

Visits can be booked here london-fire.gov.uk/safety/the-home/book-a-home-fire-safety-visit/ or phone 0800 028 4428.

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