Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service issues safety warning to university students

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have teamed up with Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities to reduce call outs to student flats.

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The fire and rescue service have launched a new campaign, together with housing providers, to raise awareness of fire safety among the 100,000 students travelling to the region.

TWFRS have revealed that in the last year they had attended 146 calls for unwanted fire signals at student hall of residents.

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An unwanted fire signal is when a fire alarm is activated but there is no fire – one of the biggest impacts on resources for fire and rescue services.

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Fire experts say smoke alarms should be tested every month.Fire experts say smoke alarms should be tested every month.
Fire experts say smoke alarms should be tested every month.

Repeated call outs to unwanted fire signal could see students face potential fines if firefighters are called to their homes without good reason.

But fire officers are also concerned that students, many of whom are leaving home for the very first time, may not know basic fire safety tips.

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In a dedicated student fire safety campaign launched today (Tuesday), TWFRS and the region’s universities are asking students to:

  • Not to cook after a night out, be mindful that you could become distracted or fall asleep. Food could get burnt and lead to your smoke alarm going off.
  • Before you start cooking, make sure you have a window open or your extractor fan operating.
  • Make sure you are charging your electronic devices on hard flat surfaces and you’re keeping an eye on them in case they get hot – they can overheat and potentially cause a fire. Do not charge devices overnight.
  • Don’t spray aerosols near your smoke detector – although the spray isn’t smoke, the vapour can still set it off.
  • Never cover or tamper with your smoke alarm.

Station Manager Graeme MacDonald, from TWFRS’s Fire Safety Department, said unnecessary call outs could have an impact on their response to other emergencies.

SM MacDonald said, “For many young people, going to university is the first time they are living alone or with people outside their family, so they might have never needed to know this advice.

“We want to ensure the students in our region, no matter where they are from, feel they are safe in their homes.

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“The campaign focuses around five common issues we see when we are called out to student accommodation across the region; often these alarm call outs are preventable.

“When we are responding to these preventable incidents, we can’t attend potentially more serious incidents where there could be a real risk to life.

“These few simple changes in behaviour can ensure that our firefighters are available to attend fires or other emergencies and keep the whole community safe.”

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TWFRS are asking university students across the region to be smart, save their time, and avoid the fine, which could come from their housing provider.

You can find out more about TWFRS’s student fire safety campaign on their website.