Edinburgh | 16 April 2012

A joint initiative between Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service (LBFRS) and the providers of social housing in the Scottish Borders has been launched in a bid to cut the number of accidental houses fires and associated risks to people in the area.

The new arrangements have been designed to ensure that new and existing tenants living in housing association properties can benefit from a free home safety visit carried out by local firefighters. As well as reducing the risk of tenants having a fire, it will also reduce the likelihood of subsequent fire damage repair costs to housing association properties.

Group Commander Scott Forbes from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said:

“LBFRS has been running a Home Safety Visit programme since 2004 with operational crews visiting homes to offer free fire safety advice and fit smoke detectors where required.

“Since 2004, more than 70,000 homes in the Scottish Borders have been visited by LBFRS firefighters offering this service.

“Our latest initiative will see a joint approach between LBFRS and the four main housing associations in the Scottish Borders, to extend our free home safety visit service to new and existing tenants.

“We will put in place a home safety visit referral process for all new housing association tenants. Plans are also in place to extend the opportunity to existing housing association tenants as appropriate and develop a referral process for “persons at risk” who are housing associations tenants.

“The aim of the home safety visit programme is to see every household in the Lothians and Borders have a working smoke detector. Smoke detectors will detect a fire in its early stages, giving occupants early warning and allowing them crucial time to escape the building from a fire.

“Fire safety advice is invaluable and helps householders to adopt safe practices in the home that will greatly reduce the risk of having a fire. Fire crews also give advice on pre-planning for emergencies, what to do should a fire break out in your home and an escape plan specific to your own home. This is a free service that can make a huge difference to preventing fires and casualties from fire.”

Housing associations will offer new tenants a home safety visit through their tenant welcome packs with referrals then processed through local stations.

If appropriate, the respective housing association will be notified of any significant concerns from a home safety visit e.g. the identification of a ‘person at risk’ i.e. someone identified as being particularly vulnerable to the likelihood of an accidental fire.

In those cases, the person might receive a home fire safety referral and an enhanced home safety visit, which may include extra precautionary measures, put in place to help protect them from having a fire.

As part of our on-going preventative activity, LBFRS will offer home safety visits to existing housing association tenants on a priority/risk basis using LBFRS risk modelling IT software. As agreed by all the housing associations, LBFRS will have records of social housing stock across the Scottish Borders.

For information:

In recent years, Scottish Borders Council housing stock has been passed from the Council to four main housing associations:

Scottish Borders Housing Association

Eildon Housing Association

Waverley Housing providers

Berwickshire Housing Association

All four housing associations have agreed to work in partnership with LBFRS.

LBFRS will fit battery-operated smoke detectors free of charge, where necessary, as part of a home safety visit. Registered Social Landlords have a duty to ensure that there is satisfactory provision for detecting and giving warning of fires to tenants. The Fire Authority would recommend that dwelling properties are fitted with mains powered smoke detection and comply with the recommendations contained in the British Standard on the design of fire detection installations for dwellings.

If you live in the Lothian and Borders area you can book a free home safety visit by calling 0800 169 0320.

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