Since starting in April 2017 the new Safe and Well home visit programme has reached out to 24,062 people whose lifestyle factors or demographic puts them at higher risk of having an accident in the home.
The Safe and Well home visit programme aims not just to prevent fires in people’s homes but also other things that could impact negatively on people’s lives – like crime, falls, smoking, social isolation and cold homes. Firefighters and dedicated fire prevention staff across WYFRS have received training to enable them to deliver the new Safe and Well checks and this training has included us working with agencies like Police, Local Authority, Public Health and NHS staff, to help vulnerable people in their homes.
The new system also joins up with partner agencies so if firefighters see something that they think people need more expert help with, they can refer through to others, like for example neighbourhood policing teams or district nursing teams.
Since Safe and Well visits started we have made 1,149 agency referrals to 107 different organisations across West Yorkshire in an effort to make the public safe.
- 41 of these related to fuel poverty and cold home concerns
- 64 of these related to crime concerns identified during the visit
- 218 of these related to falls concerns where it was felt that customers may benefit from support such as additional home adaptions.
Area Manager Chris Kirby said: “The new system is more sophisticated in that it recognises the combined factors that can lead to an accident waiting to happen in someone’s home.
“For example living alone and being over the age of 70 does not necessarily make someone more at risk of having a fire. However, if such living circumstances are combined with factors such as reduced mobility, poor mental health or other lifestyle factors such as smoking or the use of alcohol or drugs, then this does increase the risk of someone having an accidental fire.
“It is a sad reality that if you are in the older age group and there is a fire in your home you are more likely to suffer serious injury or even death.”
The new system allows the Fire and Rescue Service to spend more time with those deemed ‘high risk’ and in 2018 our average visit length had increased to one hour and 10 minutes.
Area Manager Kirby added: “I genuinely believe that targeting our effort to spend more time with those who are more at risk is the right thing to do but the fact is that we are visiting significantly less people compared to 10 years ago when we carried out shorter visits to anyone who asked for them. Safe and Well visits help the most vulnerable and the intensive training our staff go through means we can also help them with a wider range of problems too.”
The system replaced the original Home Fire Safety Check which solely focused on fire prevention and the fitting of smoke alarms and did not take into consideration a homeowner’s demographic or any lifestyle factors which might put them at risk.
Whilst the number of home visits we are carrying out has significantly reduced, the quality of the checks and the time we spend with vulnerable people has significantly increased.
When people approach the Fire and Rescue Service for a home visit we ask them various questions such as:
- Do you live alone?
- Do you, or anyone living with you smoke inside your home?
- Is there anyone living in your property who would be at an increased risk of fire because of memory issues, poor mental health or a learning disability?
- Is there anyone living in your home who would not hear a smoke alarm sounding, either when awake or asleep?
If you are deemed as being low risk, we offer a free interactive online resource to help you conduct your own fire safety check. If you want to check how safe your home is then please follow the link below.