A SHARP spike in the number of people in Scotland being killed in house fires has prompted the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to launch an appeal to communities to help stop fire deaths.

In the first quarter of this year 12 people in high risk categories have died due to an accidental fire in their home, with the service saying the majority of these deaths were preventable.

A new campaign, Make The Call, asks communities to contact Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to alert them to those who are aged over 50, smoke and either have mobility issues, live alone, or use medical oxygen.

Assistant Chief Officer Stuart Stevens said: “These tragic deaths, and the injuries suffered by others, are often completely preventable.

“We investigate every fire we attend, to understand how the fire started

and developed, how could it have

been avoided and could it have been prevented entirely.

“The answer is all too often ‘yes, that fire could have been prevented, and that person would have avoided injury or sadly, death’.

“But the greatest challenge for us

has always been reaching the most vulnerable people in our communities to make sure they have the life-saving advice and support they need.

“That is why we are issuing a nationwide call to action – if you know someone who is over 50 and smokes and lives alone, has mobility issues or uses medical oxygen – we need you to help us reach them.

“Make the call to us and we can ensure the people who may be at risk get the fire safety advice and support they need to help them stay safe in the home during the pandemic and beyond.”

From January 1 to April 30 this year more than 20 people in those categories have been seriously injured by fire with 12 deaths.

SFRS asks those who are checking in on vulnerable neighbours, patients, friends and family during lockdown to contact them using the free Home Fire Safety Visit phone line.

The national campaign has been launched following the sharp increase in the number of people who have

died following fires in homes across

the country.

Many of the victims were not known to the SFRS, which can offer guidance, advice and free Home Fire Safety Visits. Advice or a visit can be sought through the national phoneline – a five-minute process that will see the caller receive a return call from their local fire station. The number is 0800 0731 999.

Mr Stevens said: “There has been a rise in the number of people who have died because of fires in the home. While such increases are not unprecedented, we must reach out now to prevent further tragedy. We are clearly seeing that the people who are at greatest risk may already be living alone, isolated and we are not in touch with them.

“We know they are at risk, but we don’t know who they are or where they are. You might, however, and you can put us in touch with them.

“If you are a carer or family then you can refer them to us on their behalf.

If you are a neighbour or a concerned friend you must ask them for their consent before you refer them.

“Call them, check in with them if you can and adhere to social distancing guidelines, and encourage them to seek our advice or ask if you can call us on their behalf.”

SFRS had suspended its free Home Fire Safety Visit initiative during the early stages of the pandemic to support virus suppression, and protect people and staff from the risk of infection.

However, following the launch of the Make The Call campaign, the service will carry out limited and targeted visits to those most at risk from home fires.

Mr Stevens said: “Each visit will be subject to a risk assessment first, and where a visit is not possible, due to coronavirus guidelines or other reasons, we can offer tailored advice over the phone and guide a carer, family member or the person themselves through a virtual home fire safety visit.”