15 September 2016
Failing to heed the beeping of a neighbour’s smoke alarm could be a dangerous mistake, warns Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.

Following on from reports of serious fires elsewhere in the country, in which the attention of neighbours was not raised by an activated smoke alarm, NFRS would like to remind people to be on the alert if they hear any smoke alarm triggered – whether in their house or a neighbouring property.

If an alarm is going off and people believe a neighbour and/or their property is at risk from fire, they can call 999 to alert the Fire Service. They should not enter a building to attempt to perform a rescue or tackle a fire themselves.

Charlotte McLeod, prevention manager in the joint Prevention and Community Protection Department (Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police) said: “Fires can break out at any time of day or night and for many different reasons. Fires can happen when no one is at home - perhaps through a faulty electrical appliance – or there can be scenarios in which residents, for whatever reason, feel unable to escape a fire.

“We often remind people about the importance of installing fire alarms in their homes and in checking that they are working on a regular basis. It is also important to know how to respond when they go off in your home or if you hear one going off in a home nearby. Keeping an ear out for alarms in neighbouring properties could potentially save lives and minimise the destruction of property.”

Tips to maintaining and responding to smoke alarms:

1) Test your alarm by pressing the button once a month. Press the button until the alarm sounds. If it doesn’t sound, you need to replace the battery.

2) Change the batteries once a year if your alarm has removable batteries.

3) Clean your alarm’s casing twice a year to ensure dust isn’t blocking the sensor.

4) Whatever happens, never remove the batteries in your smoke alarm unless you are replacing them.

5) Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire and knows your escape route.

6) If your smoke alarm starts to beep on a regular basis, you need to replace the battery immediately.

7) The ideal position for alarms is on the ceiling in the middle of a room or on the hallways and landing so you can hear the alarm throughout your home.

8) Look out for people you know who are elderly or vulnerable. Offer to test their smoke alarms for them and make sure they are fire safe.

9) If an alarm has been triggered and you believe a neighbour and/or their property is at risk from fire, call 999. Do not worry about your call potentially being a repeat call for something already reported – it is best to ensure the emergency services know about a real incident when it has happened.

10) Do not attempt to carry out an emergency rescue yourself, but simply ensure the Fire Service have been notified and wait for a crew’s attendance.