Fire chiefs have revealed two people were killed after their clothes caught fire, prompting a special campaign by Tyne and Wear’s firefighters.
According to official figures, 2019/20 marked a 16-year high in the number of fire fatalities in the area, with nine recorded over the 12-month period.
Of these, two related to ‘very rare’ incidents in which items of clothing were ignited, leading to efforts to raise awareness of potential dangers.
Dave Leach, area manager for Service Delivery at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), said: “Following the two fatalities linked involving cultural clothing, prevention and education along with advocates and volunteers engaged with the BAME community across Newcastle and then across the service area delivering safety advice specifically on the dangers of loose fitting clothing and heat sources.
“It’s pleasing to note we have [had no] further instances of this type of incident.”
Leach was speaking at this week’s (Monday, July 6) meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Policy and Performance Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
Leach told the panel another death had been at a hostel which had been deemed ‘fire safety compliant’ but which had since been offered extra help and advice by firefighters.
Guidance has also been offered to the Showman’s Guild, which represents travelling performers, following a caravan blaze, but this had been put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
He added analysis of the fatalities had shown ‘very little in terms of trends which could be targeted’ and that in two cases smoke alarms had been fitted but were not working at the time of the blazes.