Fire Service issues smoking advice following fatal flat fire in Kirkby

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is warning of the dangers of smoking in the home following the tragic death of a man in a fire in Kirkby this week.

The fire occurred in a flat in Quarry Green Heights, Quarry Green, Northwood, Kirkby in the early hours of Tuesday 16th November. Crews were alerted at 1.00am and on scene at 1.07am after a fire was reported in the high-rise building. Five fire engines and an aerial appliance were sent to the scene.

Crews arrived to find a fire in a flat on the 12th floor of the building. Firefighters gained entry to the flat, with four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fighting the fire and searching the flat for occupants. The fire was extinguished by 1.37 am.

During their search, firefighters sadly discovered the body of a man at the property. His next of kin have been informed by Merseyside Police.

A joint investigation between MFRS and Merseyside Police has been carried out and determined the fire started in the bedroom of the flat. Initial investigations indicate the fire was accidental and caused by a discarded cigarette. No one else was injured in the incident.

Firefighters, prevention and protection staff from MFRS will visit residents of Quarry Green Heights next week to reassure residents, offering vital fire safety advice and carrying out home fire safety checks.

Mark Thomas, Group Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “This is a tragic incident which has sadly resulted in the death of a 69-year-old man. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and his community at this sad time. On initial investigation, it appears that this fire was caused by a discarded cigarette.

“Smoking remains the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home and this tragic incident shows the very real dangers smoking poses. The safest thing to do is to not smoke at all but we understand that quitting is not so simple for everyone.

“If you must smoke then please do so safely. Never smoke in bed and take extra care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight. Please do not smoke when under the influence of alcohol or drugs and remember, make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished – put it out, right out.

“The most important thing that anyone can do to keep themselves safe from fire is to have working smoke alarms and we would urge residents across Merseyside to take time out of their day to check theirs are working. “

These simple steps can help prevent cigarette and e-cigarette fires in the home:

  • Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight.
  • Never smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape.
  • Put it Out, Right Out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.
  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down.
  • Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn. Never use a wastepaper basket to dispose of a cigarette butt.
  • Keep matches out of children’s reach.
  • Never leave e-cigarettes on charge unattended for long periods of time.
  • Do not mix components of different e-cigarettes.
  • Only use the charger supplied with your device.
  • Ensure you purchase your e-cigarette and charger from a reputable source and check the e-cigarette carries CE certification.
  • Fit a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it weekly. Working smoke alarms can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Consider installing additional smoke alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas.

For fire safety advice, or if you do not have working smoke alarms in your home, please call 0800 731 5958.