No batteries in smoke alarms in tragic house fire

The death of a lone, elderly and vulnerable woman in a house fire was tragically predicted by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

In a report to the fire authority in December, fire chiefs forecast that the next victim of a house fire in Shropshire would be an elderly woman, living alone, in a house with a smoke alarm that was probably not working.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer John Redmond, who compiled the report for the Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority, said that Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service was progressing work with local authorities to identify and target vulnerable elderly people to prevent any more fire deaths.

“This is another terrible tragedy. Sadly we are aware that this type of person is vulnerable to suffering a house fire. We need people to check that their relatives, in particular elderly parents, their friends and their neighbours all have smoke alarms fitted and smoke alarms which do not have the batteries removed.”

There were no batteries in two smoke alarms fitted inside the Market Drayton home where the elderly woman died, it was revealed.

Firefighters and a paramedic attempted to resuscitate the elderly householder who died at the scene.

Fire crews had forced their way through the front door of the home in Maer Lane, Market Drayton, which is just a few metres away from the town's fire station, after the alarm was raised by binmen working in the area.

Wearing breathing apparatus, three firefighter crews fought their way through the heavily smoke logged home to find the woman in a bedroom. They immediately brought her out of the house to begin resuscitation but she was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

A severe fire in an upstairs bedroom at the back of the house was put out. Retained firefighters, who were on the scene within minutes of the call, attended from Market Drayton, Prees and Hodnet.

Fire Prevention Group Manager Phil Clarke revealed that preliminary enquiries showed that there were two smoke alarms fitted on the first floor - but neither had batteries fitted.

"People must heed our warnings. Every home must be fitted with smoke alarms with the batteries intact. A smoke alarm gives people a lifesaving warning of a fire."

25th January, 2012