Fire chief's Hogmanay drink and smoking alert

SMOKING while drunk could be a potentially fatal move, according to one of Scotland's top fire chiefs.

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Lewis Ramsay has urged people not to smoke after a drink
Lewis Ramsay has urged people not to smoke after a drink

In the past year, almost half of fatal house fires were started by lit cigarettes or other smoking materials.

And Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Lewis Ramsay is warning Hogmanay revellers to stop smoking if they are having a festive drink or two.

Mr Ramsay, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Director of Prevention and Protection, said: "I want everyone to be aware that choosing to smoke while under the influence of alcohol is a potentially fatal decision.

"In the past year, almost half of the house fires where someone lost their life were started by smoking materials.

"Impairment due to alcohol or drugs is a suspected factor in 10 fire deaths and almost 280 injuries.

"Tragedies like these can be prevented if we are aware of the risks and take action to ensure ourselves and those around us do not become victims of fire."

The SFRS has issued a New Year's call to action, warning people of the fire dangers caused by mixing alcohol and smoking.

Fire chiefs also want householders to ensure their homes are protected by working smoke alarms in both the living room and hallway.

The message is the latest put forward by the Join Scotland's Fight Against Fire campaign.

In an advert being broadcast on television and radio, a serving firefighter recalls attending a blaze where a man died after combining smoking with a New Year's Day drink.

Fire service watch manager Barry Colvan said: "A local middle-aged gentleman decided to have a couple of night caps with a smoke before going to his bed.

"He knocked the cigarette onto a t-shirt next to his bed and it just slowly smouldered.

"It caught onto the bedding and then onto the individual himself.

"If you decide to have a night cap and one last ­cigarette, make sure it's not going to be your last sleep."

Firefighters conducting free home fire-safety visits will install long-life battery smoke alarms wherever they are needed, free of charge.

SFRS is eager for the public to help it deliver this potentially life-saving service to everyone in local communities.

Mr Ramsay added: "As we welcome 2014, I am urging everyone to join Scotland's fight against fire and help prevent the devastating loss of life and injuries that follow tragic, but preventable house fires.

"Smoking materials must be fully extinguished after use and anyone who is under the influence of alcohol should avoid using them while in a chair or in bed, where they could fall asleep and become a fire casualty."

Anyone can arrange a free home fire safety visit by calling the SFRS Freephone number 0800 0731 999 or by contacting their local fire station.


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            Michelle McManus            

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