Hard-hitting video warns of the dangers of not having a smoke alarm

A hard-hitting video discussing a family’s dramatic escape from a house fire is serving as a reminder that a working smoke alarm should be at the top of everyone’s Christmas list.

The video produced by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has been released today in the run up to the busy festive period. It includes a recording of the original 999 call, with the terror of what was unfolding being described to our Control Room staff.

On Sunday 4 September 2016 concerned neighbours raised the alarm of a serious house fire in Murrayfield Road, Newcastle where a family was trapped inside.

As the caller was telling the 999 call handler the details, the flames quickly spread through the house. Neighbours desperately tried to get to the family trapped upstairs but the thick smoke stopped them getting there.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Area Manager – Community Safety, Lynsey McVay said: “The festive period is a busy time for all of us and smoke alarms are not at the forefront of people’s minds. Therefore, we hope this thought-provoking video gets the message across that – if there’s a fire – working smoke alarms are key to providing the life-saving time to get you and your family out. They should be at the top of everyone’s Christmas to-do lists.

“In this case the family did not have any smoke alarms installed so had no early warning that a fire had broken out. Thankfully neighbours were able to raise the alarm and assist in the rescue of the family while our crews extinguished the fire. They had a very lucky escape.”

The two young children were thrown from the upstairs window into the arms of neighbours crowded below in the garden.

Another neighbour Chris Stephenson smashed through the front gates with his van so the two adults left in the bedroom could carefully climb out to safety.

“Tragically, we have had three recent fire deaths, all of which involved properties that did not have a working smoke alarm. If you don’t have a smoke alarm, please get in touch with your local fire station and we will arrange an appointment to do a home safety check and install a smoke alarm as necessary,” added Area Manager McVay.

“The evidence is clear – working smoke alarms give you the best chance to get out of a fire alive.”

Two crews from Gosforth and one from West Denton attended the fire at 10:12am on September 4 2016. The fire started in a bedroom at the back of the house.

The family were taken to the RVI suffering with suspected smoke inhalation and their injuries were not life threatening.

TWFRS would also like to remind everyone of the importance of maintaining your smoke alarms:

  • Test your alarms once a week using the test button
  • Change the whole unit at least every 10 years
  • Vacuum any accumulated dust from the detector at least twice a year with the vacuum extender tube.

For fire safety advice and tips on how to keep your home safe please visit: