Two people were killed and several others received treatment following weekend house fires across Scotland.
Firefighters have urged the public to help them prevent further tragedies striking communities throughout Scotland.
The frank message was issued by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) following a number of house fires in recent days, including two incidents where people lost their lives.
Several others received treatment from firefighters or ambulance crews following incidents across the country, leading to one of Scotland’s senior fire and rescue officers to issue a powerful call to action.
Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, the SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “We are still seeing people killed and injured in fires that could easily be prevented and where working smoke alarms would have made all the difference.
“Firefighters across Scotland are out in their communities helping people stay safe, but reaching those at greatest risk is a constant challenge.
He added: “Older people, those who live alone, who have physical or mental health problems or issues with the misuse of alcohol or drugs – they’re all potentially vulnerable to fire.
“There are many things we can do to help them stay safe, but we can’t do them if we’re unaware someone is at risk. We need the public’s help to reach them before tragedy strikes.”
Firefighters serving across the country were called to fires in homes over the weekend. In the Highlands, after responding to a fire at a house in Dornoch during the early hours of Monday, a team sent into the burning building discovered the body of a woman.
It was the second fatal house fire of the weekend, after a man recovered from a home by firefighters in Dumfries on Friday evening was declared dead at the scene.
The weekend also saw people receive treatment from firefighters and ambulance crews following house fires in Portree, Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, Millport, Danderhall, Wick and Dumfries.
ACO Ramsay said: “Where a home has working smoke alarms the people inside get early warning of a fire while it’s still small and before toxic smoke has filled the home.
“This means they are likely to get out with no injuries, or to need only precautionary check-ups for minor effects of breathing in small amounts of smoke.
“Without this early warning though the chances are a small fire will rapidly grow, fill the home with toxic smoke and produce devastating heat – all of which can prove fatal or cause lifelong and horrific injuries.
“It’s unbelievable that anyone should go without working smoke alarms. They’re absolutely life-saving devices.”
Early warning of a fire is crucial to reducing the risk of deaths and injuries, but SFRS also wants people to help it prevent fires from starting in the first place.
Crews throughout Scotland actively give householders advice on hazards within the home and help them take simple steps to address them.
Professionals from a number of agencies – including social workers, housing officers, healthcare providers, police officers and others – regularly put individuals who may be at increased risk in touch with SFRS so they can benefit from firefighters’ advice.
ACO Ramsay made clear those partnerships are vital, but that the public can also join Scotland’s fight against fire and help protect those close to them.
He said: “People being at risk from fire aren’t somebody else’s problem – this is an issue for each and every one of us to consider and act on.
“Most of us will know a friend, a relative, a neighbour or a colleague who could be vulnerable, so the fact is we all have a responsibility to prevent tragedy in our communities.
“Our crews have already conducted thousands of free home fire safety visits to help residents prevent fires and access any support they might need.
“Earlier this year a referral from a district nurse saw crews in Aberdeen provide fire-retardant bedding that we know prevented what would likely have been a fatal fire.
“I’m calling on everyone to think if they know someone who could benefit from this service and if so, then act now and contact us before it’s too late. You could save their life.”
To join Scotland’s fight against fire and arrange a visit for you or someone you know, call SFRS on the freephone number 0800 073 1999 or text ‘FIRE’ to 80800, which is also free of charge.
For more information, go to www.firescotland.gov.uk