Smoke alarm campaign

A Shropshire pensioner’s help to publicise a campaign by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service to get every county home to have a smoke alarm is soon to spread nationwide.

Retired schoolteacher Margaret Leverett (63) urged every householder to get a smoke alarm installed after her century old family home at Tibberton, near Newport, was seriously damaged by fire.

Now the Government’s Fire Kills campaign wants to feature Margaret’s story in their national fire safety campaign.

“We're in real need of real examples of the effects a fire can have. If Margaret would be willing to share her story with a magazine or broadcasters, then their story may save many lives,” said Heather Monro, Press Officer for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Since Margaret’s story was publicised in local newspapers, radio and news internet sites – it has spurred people into buying smoke alarms.

“A 90-year-old neighbour of mine sent a friend out to buy a smoke alarm when she read about it in the local newspaper,” said Margaret, who is living in rented accommodation for the next four months with her sister Anne while repair work is completed on their home.

A relative also rushed out to buy a smoke alarm, she said.

“I would be more than happy for my situation to highlight to people just how important it is to have a smoke alarm fitted on every floor of your house.

“If we had one fitted then we would have been alerted much quicker and the damage would not have been so great. I felt so guilty because firefighters were fighting my fire because I didn’t have a smoke alarm. It was something I intended to do but never got around to it.”

Margaret and her 65-year-old sister had to jump out of their sitting room window when exploding aerosol cans alerted them to the fact that their house was ablaze last month. The sisters opened the sitting room door to see fire and choking black smoke blocking their escape route down the hall.

The sisters were lucky to escape the midnight blaze which struck due to an electrical fault in a light fitting at their three bedroomed Duke of Sutherland detached home in Back Lane, said John Das Gupta, Head of Fire Prevention at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

He thanked Margaret for helping Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service in their campaign for every county home to have a working smoke alarm fitted – and for people not to remove the batteries.

22nd November, 2011