400 home care staff trained to spot fire danger signs

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Eagle eyed staff from the Inverclyde Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP) have helped reduce house fires to a five year low.

Over 400 staff have received training from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) on how to spot the danger signs when visiting elderly and vulnerable people.

They’ve been taught to watch out for: cigarette burns on furniture, cooking regularly being left unattended, piles of papers and rubbish lying around and clutter that can block escape routes.

The training has also led to an increase in the number of fire safety visits where officers from SFRS provide help and advice directly to people in their homes.

Councillor Tommy McVey, Convener of Inverclyde Council’s Local Police & Fire Scrutiny Committee, said, “In Scotland over 30% of fatal fires happen in homes where the person receives care from the health and social care sector. This means home care workers are the ideal ambassadors for the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service. They regularly go into people’s homes and are ideally placed to spot issues before they develop into potentially life threatening situations.

“The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service provides free, home fire safety visits to anyone who wants one. Officers can help you sort out a fire escape plan and provide information about smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms. Get in touch. It could save your life.”

Councillor Robert Moran, Convener of Inverclyde Council’s Health & Social Care Committee, said, “Poor mobility, health issues and having problems with alcohol can all reduce a person’s ability to react quickly to a fire or to recognise safety risks. These are often factors which affect the people our staff see on a daily basis. This training means front line staff from the Inverclyde HSCP are actively helping to protect elderly and vulnerable people from fire.

“Many of us know a friend, a relative or a neighbour who lives alone, who could be in danger because of fire risks in their home. If you know someone in this position, please tell them about free, home fire safety visits.”

Station Commander Mark Meehan helped spearhead the initiative. He said, “As firefighters we are fully committed to helping to keep people safe within their homes - but we’re particularly keen to reach out to those who are more elderly or vulnerable .

“That’s why partnerships like this, where we can share potentially life-saving insight and guidance with those who work closely with elderly and vulnerable groups, are critical.

“By being able to pass on vital safety advice to communities and detecting potential domestic hazards, we can help prevent a fire from occurring in the first place.

“I’d urge everyone with an elderly relative, friend or neighbour to consider whether they could benefit from receiving a free home fire safety visit.”

A number of other fire safety initiatives are also underway in Inverclyde including training for new mothers.

How to book a fire safety visit:

  • Call 0800 0731 999
  • Text FIRE to 80800 from your mobile phone
  • Fill in the form on the SFRS website
  • Call your local fire station.

Put it out - right out!

Cigarette ends can smoulder for ages if not put out properly.


  • Stub cigarettes out properly in an ashtray – make sure there’s no smoke
  • Pour water on cigar and cigarette ends before putting in a bin – ideally an outside bin.


  • Leave a cigarette, cigar or pipe unattended
  • Balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray or anything else – they can tip and fall as they burn away
  • Empty a pipe into a bin – the ember can still be very hot even if it’s not smoking.


  • Using a proper ashtray is a good start to stopping fires from smoking.
  • Empty and clean your ashtray regularly
  • Douse with water before putting the contents of the ashtray in the bin
  • Empty into a metal bin outside if you can
  • Keep paper, wrappers and other rubbish that could catch light out of your ashtray.

Alcohol and sleepiness

Many fires started by cigarettes happen to people who have also been drinking and are sleepy.

  • Take extra care if you’ve been drinking alcohol
  • Never smoke in bed
  • Don’t smoke in your chair if you’ve been drinking or you’re feeling sleepy
  • If you do feel sleepy, smoke outside, standing up or at a window or outside door.

Matches and lighters

Starting fires is what matches and lighters are for. Make sure they only start the ones you want. Here’s how:

  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children, and away from heat sources
  • Teach children not to play with matches and lighters
  • Teach children to hand any matches or lighters they find to a responsible adult
  • Buy safety matches (ones that only strike on the box)
  • Buy lighters with safety locks and that go out when you let go of them
  • Make sure matches are out before you put them down
  • Make sure lighters are out properly before putting them down
  • Don’t throw used matches straight in the bin
  • Put used matches in an ashtray or a metal or ceramic plate and empty it regularly
  • Get a flameless ‘spark’ lighter to light gas stoves and heaters.


Page last updated: 6 November 2019