Firefighters rescue family from Birkenhead home after smoke alarm alerts them to electrical fire

A family and their cat were rescued by firefighters after their smoke alarm alerted them to a fire in their Birkenhead home.

Three fire engines from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) attended the property on Argyle Street South shortly before 2am on Thursday 1st October.

Crews were on scene in less than five minutes and found the ground floor of the property to be well alight - a fire believed to have started accidentally as a result of an electrical fault.

The occupants – two adults, a child and a kitten – were unable to exit the property themselves. Firefighters quickly used an extension ladder to rescue them from the first floor bedroom window of the property and hand them into the care of paramedics from North West Ambulance Service.

All were assessed at the scene by paramedics before being taken to hospital for further treatment.

Firefighters then forced entry to the property and four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered under rapid deployment to prevent further escalation. The fire – which had started in the living room of the property – was extinguished using a high pressure hose reel jet.

Whilst the quick actions of firefighters ultimately saved the family, the presence of working smoke alarms in the property were instrumental.

Area Manager Gary Oakford said: “Our firefighters were on scene extremely quickly and able to bring the family to safety, but had it not been for the smoke alarms alerting the family to the fire, this incident could have had a very different ending.

“Smoke alarms save lives – that is a fact – but they can’t do that if they are not working or not there at all in the first place. We would urge residents across Merseyside to make sure they have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of their home – consider installing additional smoke alarms in room with electrical appliances or sleeping areas. Make sure you test your smoke alarms every week.

“It’s also really important to keep internal doors closed at night as they stop fire from spreading throughout the property as quickly – giving us the time we need to get to you.”

Before firefighters had arrived, the family had been reassured by MFRS’ Fire Control. AM Oakford added: “The calm demeanour and advice greatly contributed to a successful outcome for this family. She delivered fire survival advice, keeping them safe and together and letting the family know where the responding crews were – reassuring them that help was on the way.

“I would like to personally praise every single person involved in the successful outcome of this incident – the responding crews, Fire Control, the police and paramedics – this was a fantastic example of partnership working.”

An investigation into the cause of the fire found that it started accidentally as a result of an electrical fault.

AM Oakford said: “With more people spending time at home at the minute as a result of coronavirus, it’s vitally important that we take steps to ensure our homes are safe. This includes making sure that our electrical appliances are working correctly – if wires look frayed or damaged or there are scorch marks on the plug or sockets, stop using the item immediately. Don’t leave electrical items like mobile phones, laptops or e-cigarettes charging overnight and make sure you are not overloading your plug sockets. Always check you are using the right fuse to prevent overloading.”


Electrical items

  • Check your electrical appliances are in good working order
  • If the wires are damaged or frayed, do not us them
  • Don’t leave items like mobile phones, laptops or e-cigarettes charging overnight
  • Don’t leave washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers running overnight or when you are not home
  • Don’t overload your plug sockets. Appliances such as washing machines should have a single plug to themselves as they are high powered.

Smoke alarms

  • You should have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home
  • Consider installing additional smoke alarms in rooms with electrical items or sleeping areas
  • Test your smoke alarms EVERY WEEK

In the Kitchen

  • Don’t leave pans unattended while cooking and NEVER leave children or pets in the kitchen alone
  • Keep cooking areas clear from combustible items like tea towels, oven gloves and food packaging
  • Clean your oven and grill regularly. A build up of fat and grease can cause a fire
  • Ditch the chip pan


  • Keep them well away from clothes, curtains, furniture and other flammable materials
  • Never use heaters to dry clothes
  • Make sure they’re switched off and unplugged before you go to bed or leave the house


  • Never leave lit candles unattended
  • Make sure they are fully extinguished before you leave the room or go to bed
  • Keep candles away from flammable items like curtains, furniture, bedding, clothing or books
  • Consider using LED battery-operated candles instead – but ensure the batteries cannot be accessed by children or pets

Escape routes

  • Plan an escape route and make sure everyone in the home knows what to do in the event of a fire
  • Keep exists clear from clutter and obstructions
  • Keep window and door keys in a known and accessible place
  • Think of a second escape route in case the first one is blocked


  • Never smoke in bed
  • Take extra care if you smoke when you are tired, taking prescription drugs that make you feel drowsy or have been drinking
  • Be sure to use a proper ashtray that can’t tip over
  • Be careful if you smoke and use emollient creams – they can soak into clothing, bedding and dressings, leaving a flammable residue