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The Local Government Association is encouraging all home owners, landlords and residents to test smoke alarms and replace batteries if required amid worrying failure rates and Christmas being a high risk time of year.
Figures show 38% of battery powered smoke alarms failed to activate in residential fires in England in the past year. This has worryingly remained at virtually the same level for nearly a decade.
21% of mains powered smoke alarms failed to operate in residential fires in 2018/19, but this failure rate is almost double at 38% for battery alarms and has stayed between 38% and 40% since 2010/11.
Cllr Ian Stephens, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said:
“Smoke alarms are proven life-savers, but these worrying ‘failure’ rates are a reminder to people to test their smoke alarms regularly and change batteries where necessary.
“Smoke alarm ownership has risen over the years to more than 90 per cent, but this encouraging trend is being dangerously undermined if they don’t activate due to faulty batteries.
“The run-up to the festive season is a timely reminder of the importance of fire safety, but working batteries aren’t just for toys at Christmas. They are needed in smoke alarms all-year round.
“With the increased potential fire risk from Christmas trees, decorations, candles and lighting, and people spending more time using heaters, open fires, and cooking hot food during the colder winter months, anyone without a smoke alarm should buy and fit one as soon as possible. They should also check the alarms of less able family members and those on their own – it may save their life.
“Many fire and rescue services can fit smoke detectors for free as part of a home fire safety visit.”
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