County Fire Service leads way in carbon monoxide prevention

Lynn Griffiths, Shropshire MP Philip Dunne, Danielle Thomas-Jones and Station Manager Shaun Baker at the launch of the carbon monoxide awareness campaign in the House of Commons last Summer

Fire officers are helping to educate the Shropshire public about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning after the tragic death of 14-year-old Hannah Thomas-Jones.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is also supporting a nationwide campaign to protect people from “the silent killer.”

Station Manager Shaun Baker told a coroner today how he carried out a reconstruction of the event leading up to the teenager’s death in a family camping tragedy in Bucknell, Shropshire as part of a joint investigation with police in May last year.

The girl died after a barbecue was left inside the tent for the family to keep warm. The teenager was killed by fumes from the barbecue placed inside the tent to keep her family warm, the coroner ruled. Hannah was pronounced dead by paramedics the morning after she arrived at the site behind the Baron of Beef pub in Bucknell.

An inquest at Wem Coroner’s Court heard her stepfather Phil Jones, mother Danielle and her 11-year-old brother, were also found unconscious inside the tent and rushed to hospital, but survived.

The hearing heard the family, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, arrived at the campsite on May 5 last year and watched a football match in the pub before going to their tent for a barbecue.

Hannah’s mother, giving evidence, said: “It was clear the barbecue had burned down. We wanted to take it into the porch area of the tent. We were cold and I thought the children would be cold. We made it effectively fire-proof, but we didn’t understand the dangers of carbon monoxide.”

Fire incident commander Shaun Baker told the coroner he believed Hannah died because she was facing a different way to the other three.

A reconstruction showed carbon monoxide levels would have been higher at the back of the tent.

Mid and north-west Shropshire coroner John Ellery passed a verdict of accidental death.

Shaun, who was the Incident Commander at the scene on the day the girl died, monitored the CO2 levels inside the tent during the barbecue reconstruction.

“We found that the carbon monoxide levels were different at various parts of the tent.

“Hannah had been at the back of the tent while her family were facing the front.”

The evidence gained by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has been shared with MPs and campaigners who have launched a national awareness campaign.

“I reported our findings from this Shropshire tragedy to the Carbon Monoxide Awareness Community Group at meetings held in the House of Commons and House of Lords last year, where I also met Hannah’s mum,” said Shaun.

Community fire safety officers at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, who educate the public about fire prevention have now increased their warnings to campers and caravanners in the county as a result of the Shropshire camping tragedy. They have also included it in their fire prevention advice to schools.

For more information about carbon monoxide and caravan and camping safety visit the fire safety advice section.

The national campaign is led by mum Lynn Griffiths who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning with her family in their new home for ten years. The organisation has alerted the Caravan Club and other UK holiday organisations to pass on strong warnings about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

GP surgeries are also receiving more information to help doctors diagnose the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning which can mirror mental health issues.

17th January, 2013