Safety booklet

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are committed to keeping residents of Shropshire safe from becoming victims of fire.  In this section you will find fire safety information and advice for your home under helpful headings.

If you need further advice, please call our fire prevention department on 01743 260260.


  • Never leave cooking unattended. Leaving cooking unattended is the biggest cause of accidental house fires.  When cooking on the cooker hob, we advise, to stay with your cooking. This means the heat could be turned off quickly if a pan was boiling over or began to smoke.  Leaving cooking is easily done with many household distractions, for example the telephone rings, children or something exciting on TV.
  • Get rid of that old style chip pan. We would advise not to use a chip pan and purchase a thermostatic controlled electric deep fat fryer that would regulate heat.
  • Keep cooker and grill clean. Keeping the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order will prevent the build-up of fat and grease that could ignite and cause a fire.
  • Don’t store anything on the cooker, including oven gloves or tea towels. Anything left on the cooker top could burn if the cooker was left on or the wrong hob was switched on accidentally.
  • Ensure pan handles don’t stick out so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
  • Never leave children alone in the kitchen and fit a child safety catch to the oven door.
  • Take extra care when wearing loose clothing whilst cooking, they can easily catch fire.
  • Use a spark device to light gas cookers, this is safer than using matches or lighters.
  • Make sure the oven, hob and grill is turned off when you have finished cooking.

Using a chip pan fryer

We would strongly recommend not using a chip pan. Never fill the pan more than a third full with fat or oil.  Never leave the pan unattended with the heat on - even for a few seconds.  Ensure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash. If oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.

If a pan catches fire in your kitchen

  • Never tackle a fire on your cooker hob - you could put yourself and others in danger.
  • Don’t move it as it will be very hot.
  • Never throw water onto a fat fire.
  • Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so – don’t lean over the pan to reach the controls.
  • Our advice would be to get out, stay out and call 999.

Electrical fire safety

  • Don't overload plug sockets. All wall sockets have a maximum capacity of 13 AMP’s. High powered appliances such as washing machines/tumble dryers/kettles/toasters should have a single plug socket to themselves.
  • Don’t run cables under mats or carpets. Cables/wires under mats or carpets can wear and tear over time and the damage can’t be seen.
  • Check for frayed or worn cables and wires. Check to see if the cable is fastened securely to the plug and check the socket for scorch marks. You should always carry out these checks before you plug an appliance in.
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order. Look out for fuses that blow, circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason and flickering lights to prevent them triggering a fire.
  • Check for British or European safety mark. Make sure an appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it.
  • Always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overloading. When you're fitting or replacing a fuse, it's important to use the right fuse for the appliance to make sure the cable doesn't overheat and that the appliance is protected in the event of a fault.

Smoking and E-Cigarettes

Fires caused by smoking materials are the biggest killers in accidental house fires.

  • Use a proper ashtray, make sure that it can’t tip over and is made of a material that won’t burn. Empty ashtrays when the contents are cold.
  • Never smoke in bed, bedding can catch fire very quickly.
  • Take extra care if you smoke when you are tired, taking prescription drugs, or have been drinking, you may fall asleep and set the bedding or sofa alight.
  • Cigarettes must be stubbed out fully before going to bed.
  • A lit cigarette or pipe should never be left unattended.  A cigarette left burning on an ashtray may fall onto an armchair or carpet, this can quickly catch fire.
  • All matches and lighters should be kept well out of children’s reach. Children, because of their natural curiosity, can be at great risk from fire, many of the fires started by children have been lit with matches or lighters that they have picked up from around the home.


The Chief Fire Officers Association has released a list of safety tips when charging e-cigarettes:

  • Always use the correct charger and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never charge a battery that has signs of damage, that has been dropped, or has been subjected to impact.
  • Never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer.
  • Check that your e-cigarette battery has overcharge or overheat protection.
  • Remove the battery from charge when complete – don’t over charge.
  • Never leave a battery on charge unattended.
  • Don’t use if wet or exposed to water.
  • Ensure that you dispose of batteries correctly.

Fires and heaters

Open fires or portable heaters can cause accidental fires. Every year people die or are injured in their homes as a result of fires caused by heating appliances. Many of these fires involve portable heaters.

Any type of portable heater can start a fire if it is misused. We recommend reading manufacturer's instructions before using one.

  • Never dry clothes over a heater.
  • Don’t sit or stand too close to a heater, clothes and furnishings can easily catch fire. We advise to leave at least a 1 Mtr (3 Feet) safety zone.
  • Don’t block the exits, the fire is the most likely place for an accidental fire to start in that room. If it is between you and the exit you could very easily become trapped in the room with the fire.
  • Turn off portable heaters before going to bed.
  • Position heaters against a wall, facing into the room, if possible secure them to the wall.
  • Wherever possible use a fire guard especially where there are children.
  • Don’t leave a portable heater on if young children or animals are left unattended.
  • Be very careful when using flammable products close to heaters, vapours from paints, cleaning products or aerosols can ignite.

LPG /gas cylinder heaters

Accidents can occur as a result of gas leaking when people are changing cylinders or cartridges. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is butane or propane stored as a liquid under pressure. Any leak can produce a large volume of highly flammable gas. The gas is heavier than air so that it collects near the floor or ground and can be ignited.

Our safety advice includes:

  • Buy a heater that carries the British Standard Institution (BSI) kitemark
  • Keep the heater clean and well maintained.
  • Ventilate the room in which the heater is being used.
  • Make sure that a permanent safety guard is fitted.
  • If a heater is to be used in one place for a long time fix it securely to a floor or wall.
  • Do not move a heater while it is alight or switched on.
  • Change the cylinder in open air. If this is not possible, open windows and doors to increase ventilation.
  • Extinguish all sources of ignition, including cigarettes and pilot lights, and turn off other heaters and electrical appliances before changing the cylinder.
  • Never change a cylinder on a stairway or in any escape route.
  • Store spare cylinders outside where possible. Never store them in basements, near drains, under the stairs or in a cupboard containing electric meters or equipment. Spare cylinder must be stored upright.

Paraffin heaters

  • Never buy a second hand paraffin heater as they can be dangerous. Buy a heater that carries the BSI kitemark.
  • Only use paraffin and never use other fuels.
  • Extinguish the heater and allow it to cool before refilling it. Wherever possible, refill the tank outside the building.
  • Fill the fuel container to just below the maximum level, to allow for expansion when the paraffin warms up.
  • Never allow paraffin to overflow or drip onto the floor. Clean up any spillage immediately.
  • Ensure the heater is standing level, preferably on a noncombustible base, and is away from draughts before lighting it.
  • Keep spare fuel outside the home. No more than 23 litres (5 gallon), and preferably only 9 litres (2 gallon) should be kept. Spare fuel should be in purpose made containers and stored away from sources of heat.

Open fires and log burners

Open fire/and Wood burner chimneys need to be swept regularly, this is one of our commonest winter fire calls and a fire in a chimney can cause serious damage to your property. A build-up of potentially fatal Carbon Monoxide can occur if the flue is blocked. We would recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector in your property. They are available from household stores or supermarkets. Read manufactures’ instructions for installation.

Common causes of fires in chimneys are:-

  • Burning unseasoned wet wood.
  • Debris and tar building up inside the chimney.
  • Overnight burning or smoldering wood for long periods in wood stoves.
  • Hot embers falling from the fire.
  • Infrequent sweeping and cleaning.

Staying safe with open fires

  • Always use a fire guard to protect from sparks.
  • Extinguish the fire before going to bed or going out.
  • Log burners should be installed by a competent person, following the maker's instructions and the building regulations. Wood burning stoves must be installed on a fire-resistant base and connected to a flue.
  • Ensure that you always use the correct fuel for your log burner and never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.
  • Wet or newly-felled wood can cause tar or creosote to form in the flue of the log burner or chimney. If the creosote is not removed through regular cleaning, there is a significant risk of the creosote catching fire. A chimney fire has the potential to result in significant loss of property or life.
  • Do not stack logs or place any other combustible materials immediately adjacent to the wood burner. The flue and the outside of the unit can get extremely hot and we have been called to a number fires caused as a result of logs being stored against log burners.
  • Children should not be permitted near hot surfaces or the stove door. Use a protective fire guard that is suited to the design of the log burner.
  • Before lighting the first fire of winter, have your chimney swept.
  • Don’t allow soot or ash to build up.

How often should chimneys and flues be swept?

  • Chimneys should be swept according to the type of fuel used:
    • Smokeless fuels – at least once a year.
    • Bitumous coal – at least twice a year.
    • Wood – quarterly when in use.
    • Oil – once a year.
    • Gas – once a year.

Warning signs you have a chimney fire

  • Excessive smoke.
  • Embers falling onto the hearth.
  • The walls of the chimney breast or adjacent walls becoming very hot to the touch.
  • Flames showing from the pot.

Candles/Liquid gel or bioethanol fuel burners

Please remember that candles can cause fire in your home, treat them carefully.

This includes celebration lights, such as Diva’s and lanterns.

  • Never leave candles or other naked flames unattended or when going to sleep. Snuff them out.
  • Always use a suitable holder when burning candles.
  • Do not place candles near to soft furnishings, curtains or other flammable items and keep them out of draughts.
  • Candles should be spaced 10 cm apart and never placed under a shelf.
  • Put them on a heat-resistant surface and be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic; TVs are not fire resistant objects.
  • Don’t lean across candles.
  • Children and pets should be supervised when close to candles.
  • Ensure that candles are fully extinguished and use a candle snuffer rather that blowing a candle out.
  • Keep loose clothing, hair or other fabrics away from flames.

Liquid gel or bioethanol fuel burners

These types of burners are becoming more popular but they can be very dangerous, please see our tips below on staying safe.

  • Beware of cheap sub-standard products.
  • Follow manufacturer’s safety advice.
  • Remember that bioethanol fuel is highly flammable.
  • Flame can be almost invisible especially when the fuel level becomes low.
  • Refuel only when the fire has been extinguished and cold.
  • Use approved small containers to refuel.
  • Wipe up any spillages before igniting the bioethanol. Keep fuel away from clothes. Don't refuel when under the influence of alcohol – spillages of fuel could more easily happen and go unnoticed.
  • Light with a manual or electric taper. Do not use a lighter/match/rolled up paper.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fire.
  • Do not move the appliance with the fuel lit.
  • Store bioethanol in appropriate containers away from any naked flame and carefully consider where to keep fuel stocks safely.
  • Do not use in a room with poor ventilation.
  • Installing a CO detector in room is recommended.
  • Make sure the fire is out before leaving the room or going to sleep.

Smoke alarms

A smoke alarm is your early warning system, which will detect and alert you to a fire in your home. A smoke alarm will give you and your family valuable time to escape. Smoke alarms should be tested weekly.

Smoke alarms should be fitted:

  • To the ceiling,
  • One per level of your home, and
  • In circulation areas (hallways and landings) that form part of your escape route).
  • According to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Smoke Alarms should be fitted at least 30 cm (12") away from any wall or light fitting and close to the center of the room. Care should be taken to fit them where you can hear them particularly when you are asleep.

A simple maintenance plan will ensure that your smoke alarm(s) continues to protect your family. Test smoke alarms weekly (generally by pushing the button, but check on your manufacturer’s instructions for how to test). Gently remove dust and dirt from inside the casing and on the cover. The soft brush attachment of your vacuum can be used.

Different types of smoke alarms:

One-year battery alarms (Ionisation/Optical):

  • Test the smoke alarm each week.
  • Gently remove dust and dirt from inside the casing and on the cover. The soft brush attachment of your vacuum can be used.
  • Make sure grilles on the cover of the smoke alarm are not obstructed.
  • Change the battery annually, even if it is not emitting a low power warning. Always use a high quality battery.

10 year life lithium battery alarms (Ionisation/Optical):

  • Test the smoke alarm each week.
  • Gently remove dust and dirt on the cover. The soft brush attachment of your vacuum can be used.
  • Make sure grilles on the cover of the smoke alarm are not obstructed.
  • Replace the unit at the end of lifespan.

Mains powered units with battery back-ups:

  • The installation of this type of system should only be carried out by qualified electrician.
  • Test the system each week.
  • Gently remove dust and dirt on the cover. The soft brush attachment of your vacuum can be used.
  • Keep the unit clean and dust free (switch off first). Make sure grilles on the cover of the smoke alarm are not obstructed.
  • Replace the battery according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Smoke alarms for hard of hearing or deaf people

Smoke alarms emit a high pitched sound which some people may struggle to or are unable to hear. Perhaps someone takes their hearing aids out at night-time and therefore unable to hear a smoke alarm if it sounded during the night. There is a specialist type of alarm that consists of 1 or 2 smoke alarms, a mains unit, a strobe light and vibrating pad. The vibrating pad is placed under the pillow and will wake the householder if asleep and the flashing light acts as a visual alarm. This type of smoke alarm is available to purchase from various outlets.

For further advice and information on the types of smoke alarm and where to fit smoke alarms, please contact Safety in the Home Team on 01743 260260.

Fire escape plan

This is your household plan if there was an emergency in your home. Making a plan of your nearest/best escape route is very important:

  • Know the way out - sounds simple, but in a dark and smoky atmosphere things are very different.
  • Your best route is the way you always come into your home. Think about another way too (e.g. back door, patio doors or side door).
  • Keep your escape routes clear of obstacles. If it was dark, you could trip over things underfoot.  Especially keep stairs clear.
  • Know where door and window keys are kept. Ensure there are keys in every room where windows are kept locked.
  • Depending on how many live in the property, ensure there is a pre-arranged meeting place. If you all get out separately, have a meeting point so you are all together and someone does not re-enter the building to save someone that is already out.

If you live in a flat and discover the hallways filled with smoke or fire – go back inside your flat and close the door. Do not use the lift.

Practice your Fire Action Plan

  • Knowing what to do could save your life.
  • Take a few minutes to 'walk' the route with your family.
  • Check that everyone is able to operate keys and locks.
  • Review your plan if you make any changes in your home.

If there is a fire

  • Raise the alarm, do not look for the fire and shout to wake everyone up.
  • Follow your plan and get out.
  • Check doors with the back of your hand before opening.
  • If it feels warm, do not open it - go another way.
  • If there is a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air will be cleaner.
  • When outside, call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service from a mobile phone, phone box or a neighbors’ house.
  • Stay calm, speak clearly and listen to the operator.

If the escape route is blocked

  • Get everyone into one room.
  • Close the door and put bedding or towels along the bottom to seal the gap.
  • Open the window for fresh air - the Firefighters will see you there.
  • Phone the Fire and Rescue Service or shout for help (shout ‘fire’) and get someone else to make the call.
  • If you are on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through the window.
  • Throw some bedding, clothing or soft furnishings out.
  • Do not jump, lower yourself down at arm's length and drop into the soft pile.
  • Think about the best order to go down if you have children or older people with you. Don’t leave children to be last to get out - they may be too scared to do it.
  • If you have to break a window, cover the jagged edges with any available soft materials.

If an occupier was not able to get out of any room very easily

  • Choose a room where you could be visible and heard by a passer-by. This room could be at the front or rear of your property.
  • A bedroom with a telephone in it will enable you to call the fire service straight away.