Six steps to safety

People across the West Midlands are being urged to take six simple steps towards reducing the risk of fire in their home.

The advice has been issued as members of the Fire Brigades Union prepare to stage a four and a half hour strike from 6pm on Friday (1 November), as part of a national dispute with the Government over their pensions.

The brigade is reassuring the public that detailed contingency plans lie behind its efforts to provide the maximum level of protection possible during the strike.

It is also calling on the public to follow the ‘Six simple steps’ that have been published on its website ( and in leaflets that will be made available across the West Midlands.

Area Commander Paul Burnham, Head of Emergency Response for WMFS, said: “We’ll be providing all the protection we can with the staff we have available during the strike - but this will be a reduced service. We are also asking people to take extra care during the four hours, whether they’re at home or out and about. Vigilance and common sense can make the difference between needing to call 999 or not.”

During the strike, people in genuine emergency who need the fire service should call 999 as usual.

The WMFS ‘Six simple steps’ are:


•    make sure you have smoke alarms on each floor of your home
•    test your smoke alarms every week
•    if you can’t reach them, get a friend or relative to test them for you
•    never disconnect or take the batteries out of an alarm if it goes off by mistake


•    Look when you cook! Never leave cooking unattended - take pans off the heat if you have to leave the room
•    keep your cooker clean - burnt food and fat can cause fires
•    make sure that your toaster, oven, hob and grill are all clean and in good working order
•    don’t drink and fry - order a take-away or eat cold food
•    keep clothing and tea towels away from the cooker
•    keep electrical leads away from the cooker and water
•    get rid of your chip pan
•    if a pan catches fire, don’t take risks. Get out, stay out and call 999


•    unplug appliances when not in use, unless they’re designed to be left on, like your fridge
•    don’t overload plug sockets
•    ensure tumble dryers and washing machines are cleaned and maintained - excess fluff can build up over time and catch fire
•    keep heaters clear from curtains and furniture - never use them to dry clothes
•    keep all appliances clean and in good working order
•    regularly check for worn or frayed wires - always ensure cables are secured properly to the plug before plugging anything in
•    unplug your electric blanket before you go to bed, unless it has a thermostat for safe all-night use
•    don’t leave the washing machine or tumble dryer on while you’re out or in bed


•    stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully. Put them out. Right out!
•    never smoke in bed
•    keep all matches and lighters out of children’s reach
•    use a proper ashtray that can’t tip over and is made of material which won’t burn
•    never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended - they can easily overbalance, land on a carpet or newspaper and start a fire
•    empty ashtrays regularly


•    establish a bedtime routine to keep you and your family safe
•    switch off and unplug electrical equipment - only leave appliances on if they’re designed to be left on, like your fridge
•    close all internal doors at night to stop a fire from spreading
•    check your cooker - make sure the grill, hob and oven are all turned off
•    turn heaters off and put a guard in front of an open fire
•    check candles are out - never leave one burning when you go to sleep
•    keep door and window keys where you can easily find them
•    keep a phone at your bedside in case you need help
•    don’t leave the washing machine or tumble drier on when you’re out or have gone to bed


•    plan an escape route so you know what to do if you’re alerted by your smoke alarm to a fire in your home
•    make sure everyone knows the escape route, and keep it clear
•    the best route is the normal way in and out of your home
•    think of a second route in case the first is blocked
•    practise your escape plan
•    keep door and window keys where everyone can find them

More safety advice is also available in the ‘Stay safe’ section of the brigade’s website: Regular tips are also issued on Twitter via @WestMidsFire


Issued by Neil Spencer, Senior Press Officer, West Midlands Fire Service, tel 0121 380 6101. On Twitter we’re @WestMidsFire

Press Release Date: 
Friday, September 20, 2013 - 10:45