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News items related to general safety, public safety information, key safety initiatives or projects.

Be Water Aware Week 2021

A lifebouy floating in a swimming pool

West Midlands Fire Service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Be Water Aware Week 2021 campaign to encourage people not to be complacent when spending time in and around water.

Water bouy and rings by a dock

Whether at home or away, we hope to educate and encourage people to stay safe by being aware of the risks.  

As the current Covid-19 restrictions ease it is anticipated many people will head to coastal locations and inland water beauty spots. Few people would think they might become a water incident statistic – but the fact is in the UK in 2019 more people died from accidental drowning than cyclists did on the road.  

Following simple advice will help reduce the 223 accidental drownings reported in 2019 and the many more injuries, which can be lifechanging, following water related incidents.

The advice includes:  

  • Never swim alone in case you need help 
  • Don’t drink alcohol when undertaking water related activities, it impairs judgement and your ability to swim 
  • Avoid walking routes near water if you have been drinking alcohol 
  • Don’t dive or jumping straight into open water, this can cause potentially fatal cold-watershock even on the warmest day  
  • Actively supervise children in and around water – drowning can happen fast and silently 
  • If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, don’t panic, extend your arms and legs out and float on your back until the effect of cold-water shock pass
  • Never enter the water to try and rescue someone, call 999 and ask for the Fire Service if inland and the Coastguard if you are at the coast.

NFCC’s Drowning Prevention Lead Dawn Whittaker said:  

“We want people to enjoy spending time in and around water safely and that’s why we are asking people to be water aware. By highlighting this issue and making sure simple safety messages reach them, we hope to reduce the number of these needless and preventable deaths.”  

Look out for #BeWaterAware on our social media accounts for more information and advice this Be Water Aware Week 2021. 

Reassurance for high-rise residents

Fire engine with firefighters and an ambulance technician outside a highrise block

Residents of high-rise building in Solihull are being reassured about the safety of their home following a sixth-floor fire. 

The incident at Redwood House in Kingshurst, on the evening of 5 December, was attended by 11 fire crews. The design of the building and fire safety measures meant, however, that the severe fire was successfully contained to the flat in which it started.

Fire engine with firefighters and an ambulance technician outside a highrise block

The 12-storey block contains 66 flats for elderly residents. Some residents decided to leave their homes during the incident and then had to be led to safety by firefighters. But others who decided to ‘stay put’ remained safe and their homes were unaffected. 

Area Commander Samantha Burton, of West Midlands Fire Service, said: “The front door to the affected flat stopped the fire and contained it within. Only the communal area outside suffered minor smoke damage.  

“Our Fire Safety Officers have been carrying out further investigations since the incident and have found the same fire safety measures throughout the building.  

We would like to reassure residents that the building’s ‘stay put’ policy is fit for purpose and that the built-in aspects of fire protection are sound. 

“We would like to thank those residents who did stay in their homes. This meant that our fire crews could focus on tackling the fire and concluding the incident aquickly and as safely as possible.” 

Fire safety inspections have found that the building is wellmaintained, complies with fire legislation and has high standards of fire protection.

Last month, Solihull Community Housing (SCH) announced that it is to fit fire sprinklers throughout its high-rise housing stock in the borough. 

Added Area Commander Burton: We recognise and welcome Solihull Community Housing’s continued investment in fire safety. Their installation of sprinklers throughout their high-rise premises will dramatically reduce the risk from fire to both their residents and any of our firefighters who need to respond to any incidents.

“Since the Redwood House incident on 5 December we have continued to liaise closely with SCH and want residents to feel safe and reassured. Anyone who would like us to advise on fire safety in their own flat just needs to contact us via their housing representative and we will be in touch. 

We’ll be continuing to work closely with residents and SCH in 2021, to ensure that the high fire safety standards which proved so effective in this instance continue.” 

Residents are being urged to get into the habit of having a night-time routine to help prevent fire  

  • if you have any concerns, raise them as soon as you can with your landlord 
  • turn off appliances and equipment like cookers and TVs which don’t need power overnight 
  • close internal doors, which can help to stop fire spreading 
  • fully extinguish smoking materials such as cigarettes and matches, and candles, before you go to bed 
  • charge items such a mobile phones and tablets during the day, when you can keep an eye on them. 

In addition: 

  • make sure you know the escape plan for your particular building – your landlord has a legal duty to give you a copy, so ask for one if you haven’t had it 
  • keep exits clear – in your own flat and in shared areas 
  • never wedge a fire door open 
  • don’t make changes to your flat’s front door without seeking advice from the managing agency 
  • keep corridors and stairwells clear and sterile, eg do not dump rubbish or old furniture there 
  • if you have any concerns, raise them as soon as you can with your landlord. 

For further high-rise safety advice, visit: 

Have a safe and happy Christmas!

Real Christmas tree with decorations

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is urging people to take extra care at home and on the roads this Christmas. 
With large gatherings restricted because of the Coronavirus pandemic, many more families than usual are expected to spend the festive period at home. 
But those who are heading out are being urged to ‘make it none for the road’ – and to heed police warnings about getting behind the wheel the morning after drinking at home.

Real Christmas tree with decorations

WMFS will be sharing a range of seasonal fire safety tips across its social media channels and website – covering everything from candle safety, through to safe cooking and not being tempted to use smoke alarm batteries for new toys and gadgets.

Pete Wilson, West Midlands Fire Service’s Group Manager for Prevention, said: “An accidental fire at home or being injured on the road is the last thing any of us needs after such a tough year. As always, our firefighters and fire control staff will be available 24/7 if you need them. 

“However, by following our festive safety tips and sticking to national restrictions on how many people can meet up, we hope people across the West Midlands can stay safe and able to look forward to a much happier 2021.

Many people have put up their Christmas trees andecorations earlyfor some much-needed cheerIf you’ve got a real Christmas tree, remember to keep it watered. Fairy lights and a dry tree are a real fire risk. 

“It’s all too easy for safety to slip down the Christmas list when there’s so much to do. That’s why we’re asking people to take just a few minutes to read our tips on our website and social media, plan ahead and stay as safe as possible.

WMFS is also appealing to drivers not to drink-or drug-drive. 

Research by Drinkaware shows some people have significantly increased their alcohol consumption at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. 

The road safety charity, Brake, says that drivers who are only just over the legal limit are still six times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than someone who has drunk nothing. 

Added Pete Wilson: “Please don’t be tempted to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and give your system ample time to recover if you’re drinking at home. So many people make the mistake of thinking they’ve ‘slept it off’, when they’re still over the legal limit.”

Check out WMFS’s festive safety tips at and follow @WestMidsFire on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Our tips for a safe and happy Christmas: 

  • keep real Christmas trees watered – they can become a fire risk if they dry out – and keep the water away from lights and cables 
  • make sure your Christmas lights are in good condition. If you’re replacing old ones, LED sets are the safer option 
  • don’t leave Christmas lights or powered decorations switched on when you go out or to bed 
  • make it ‘none for the road’ and remember that you could still be over the legal drink-drive limit the morning after the night before 
  • pause before you plug! Avoid overloading sockets and extension cables
  • LED candles don’t get hot, so there’s much less risk of fire. If you must use real candles, never leave them unattended and always keep them away from flammable items including Christmas decorations and curtains 
  • test your smoke alarms weekly and never be tempted to remove the batteries – even for a short time – to use in toys and electrical gifts 
  • follow manufacturers’ guidelines and only use the chargers and cables that come with your gadgets and electrical presents 
  • don’t drink alcohol before or during cooking, and never leave a cooker unattended when it’s in use. 

No need to speed

A car's speedometer

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is supporting this year’s BRAKE National Road Safety Week 2020 (16- 22 Nov 2020).

This year’s campaign focuses on the ‘what, why and where’ of speed – and the wide-ranging impacts it can have on different people in different environments.

Road safety week no need to speed graphic

Peter Allington, of WMFS’s Road Casualty Reduction Team, said; “We work closely with local road safety partners to coordinate our road safety prevention activities.

“Our ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions across the West Midlands by 40% over the next 10 years, as set out in the West Midlands Regional Road Safety Strategy.

“We fully support BRAKE’s ‘No Need To Speed’ campaign. We would urge all drivers to drive safely, within the speed limit or road conditions. This is especially important where there are more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and e-scooter riders.”

Slower traffic can make places feel more welcoming for the people who live, work, and play in them. Choosing, for example, to walk or cycle to get around can also bring health, fitness and wellbeing benefits.

Did you know?

Almost a quarter of road traffic collisions involve someone who was driving too fast (Source: Department for Transport 2020)

Every year, more than 3,000 children and young people aged 0-17 are killed or suffer life-changing injuries on Britain’s roads Department of Transport, 2019)

Road traffic collisions are the biggest killer of children and young people aged 5-29 worldwide (Source: World Health Organisation, 2019)

Check out our ‘On the Roads’ advice and safety tips: