Two fires caused every day by electrical goods

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EVERYDAY electrical items are sparking almost two fires a day in homes, Lothian and Borders firefighters have warned.

Between April last year and March, 701 domestic fires were caused as a result of faults, carelessness or misuse of electrical items.

More than 150 people were treated for injuries as a result of the outbreaks, and three lost their lives.

And Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service has urged householders to take extra care to ensure goods, such as toasters, cookers and washing machines, do not start a blaze that could lead to a similar tragedy.

The majority of electrical fires in the 2011-12 financial year started in the kitchen, with more than 300 beginning because of cookers, 40 in microwaves and 65 in grills or toasters, while 44 were sparked by tumble dryers or washing machines.

Spotlights, faulty electrical wiring, deep-fat fryers, computers and electric blankets were among the other sources of fires.

Mike Jaffray, community safety group commander, said: “The fact there were three fatalities last year as a result of electrical-related fires is tragic, and we want to get the safety message into people’s minds to try to prevent any further tragedies from happening.”

Mary Mackie, 65, was one of the victims of a fire that was classified as electrical by the fire service. She died in hospital after the blaze took hold at Suttislea Road, Newtongrange, in February.

She had been pulled from the fire and received CPR outside the home. Firefighters believe the fire started due to a faulty electricity supply at the property.

Ms Mackie’s death followed the blaze that claimed the life of 42-year-old father-of-two George Marley.

The fatal fire broke out in Mayfield, near Dalkeith. The fire service believe it started in wiring, cables or an electricity socket because of a faulty supply.

Lothian and Borders firefighters also attended a fatal blaze in Galashiels in November. It is understood that 68-year-old Brian Hart lost his life after a heater was carelessly knocked over.

Ceasar Ticehurst, who was a firefighter for 30 years before he set up fire prevention consultancy and training business Firehouse Scotland, said the state of the economy could lead to an increase in electrical fires. He said: “Over ten years, wiring should be looked at or checked but it never gets done,” he said. “When people don’t follow the precautions, that’s where the trouble starts.

“There are themes that come through over the years. Fireplace fireguards used to be a problem, but that’s almost a thing of the past. Then there was furniture, then it was regulated and it made a big difference.

“Now overloading of sockets and electrical faults is a major thing. And people who are less well off don’t have the money to change or service things. They might buy stuff second hand. That can cause problems.”

For further fire safety information visit www.lbfire.org.uk or for a free home safety visit where firefighters will fit a free smoke detector and offer advice call 0800 169 0320.

How to avoid an electrical fire - Community safety group commander Mike Jaffray

Firstly, reduce the risk of an electrical fire by unplugging non-essential electrical items such as televisions, hair styling equipment, games consoles and lamps when they’re not being used, and don’t switch on appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers when you go out or to bed.

Electric heaters cause a lot of fires and injuries, either by being left on unattended, or by leaving things too close to them.

Cooking-related fires can also be counted under the misuse of an electrical appliance, such as microwaves and electric cookers.

Electric blankets can catch fire, so don’t leave them on when you’re in bed. They should also be checked for damage such as scorching and exposed wires.

Use one plug for each electrical socket and avoid overloading adapters. Don’t run cables under carpets and never rejoin cables with insulating tape – replace the whole cable.