Smokers in the West Midlands are being urged to take extra care following a house fire which killed two men.
Fire investigators who examined the scene of the tragedy in Bushbury Lane, Wolverhampton believe that a cigarette ignited a sofa.
West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) responded to the fire at 2.03am on Monday 25 October. Crews from Bilston, Dudley, Fallings Park and Wolverhampton fire stations were met with a severe blaze on the ground floor.
Two men in their late forties were rescued. Very sadly, in spite of the efforts of firefighters and paramedics, one of the men died at the scene and the other in hospital.
Pete Wilson, WMFS’s Strategic Lead for Prevention, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this awful incident. We will be preparing a full report for Her Majesty’s Coroner, but our investigators believe that the fire started when a cigarette ignited a sofa.
“It is a stark and sobering reminder of the fire risks associated with smoking. We are urging all smokers in the West Midlands to take extra care.
“Fires caused by smoking materials such as cigarettes, roll-ups, cigars and lighters result in more deaths than any other type of fire. In the five years to March of this year, smoking was a factor in a third of the 51 fire deaths in the communities we serve.
“In the same period, we recorded 613 fires related to smoking in people’s homes. That’s nearly eight per cent of all incidents to which our firefighters responded.
“Of course, we would much rather that people didn’t smoke but do appreciate that many people find it difficult to stop. Advice on giving up is available from the NHS and a range of other organisations, and our firefighters can share valuable safety advice in your home if you request one of our Safe and Well visits.”
In the five years to March 2021, nearly two thirds of smoking-related incidents attended by WMFS started in bedrooms, living rooms or in refuse, for example a bin or rubbish chute.
Falling asleep contributed to nearly 17 per cent of smoking-related fires in the home and distraction to 12 per cent.
Safety Tips for Smokers
- always make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished
- take extra care when you’re tired, taking any sort of drugs or have been drinking alcohol. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning. Never smoke in bed
- never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down
- use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn and don’t let the ash or cigarette ends build up in it
- A small amount of water in the ashtray will help to make it safer
- tap your hot ash into an ashtray, never a wastebasket or bin containing other rubbish
- keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach. Ideally, buy child-resistant lighters and matchboxes.
If you’re looking to give up smoking and would like advice or support, visit the NHS website for help and guidance.