A kind-hearted neighbour has been hailed as a life saver by the fire service after referring his elderly neighbours for a free home visit.
David Dombrowski, a part-time Editor, alerted Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) after hearing about a Lifesaver campaign they had launched to help keep vulnerable people safe.
The 39-year-old has been a resident of Saltwell in Gateshead for over 15-years, and had received a safe-and-well check at his own home from TWFRS staff.
But after hearing about the Service’s fire safety campaign, he decided to use the visit as an opportunity to refer his elderly neighbours.
David talked with a prevention and education officer about neighbours Joseph and Lorraine Kane, who are both in their late-70s and have mobility issues.
“Information saves lives,” said David.
He continues: “Down the years Mrs Kane has always been a very gracious neighbour. She always takes the time out of her day to say hello.
“I was aware of her husband Joseph’s mobility issues and I thought that a visit by the Fire Service might be beneficial as the crucial fire safety advice could one day save the couple’s lives.
“Having a fire in your home is very dangerous and can be fatal. That’s why I thought it was my neighbourly duty to see if Joseph and Lorraine might require some potential assistance.
“I’m glad that it has made a difference for them, however big or small it may be, and I believe the Lifesaver campaign will bring great benefit to everyone who may need support.”
The region-wide Lifesaver campaign aims to encourage people to contact the Service and arrange fire safety checks for individuals or families at higher risk of being injured in a fire.
A simple telephone call, email or social media message made by somebody reaching out to TWFRS could be the deciding factor that helps to change a friend or family member’s life forever.
David’s Saltwell neighbours Joseph and Lorraine, are both 78-years old and they have also thanked their neighbour for looking out for their safety.
Lorraine was asked about the importance of the Lifesaver campaign and Safe and Well checks. She said: “The awareness campaign and safety checks are very important indeed especially when you are disabled and can’t get out of the house that quickly to escape a potential fire.
“Our recent Fire Service visit has definitely helped to ease those fears and has put our minds at rest.
“The officers were very good. I wasn’t afraid to ask any questions as they were happy to provide simple to understand answers. I didn’t realise just how many hazards there could be in your home that may lead to a potential fire. You could be going about your daily routine oblivious to the dangers from plugs, candle or even the hazard of tripping over an electrical flex.”
The couple have lived in the area since 1966, which was a very poignant year as they also got married at St. Joseph’s RC Church in Gateshead.
They have four children, Dominic, Marie-Louise, Michelle and Cecilia; and are also the proud grandparents to Alexander, Tom and Calum.
Before Lorraine retired she worked in the Citizens Advice Bureau in Gateshead – a job she enjoyed for over 25-years. Her husband worked in retail and as an engineer.
Lorraine says that David’s kind gesture of contacting the Fire Service was caring, neighbourly and community minded.
Lorraine was asked if she would recommend her fire safety experience to friends and family. She said: “It was invaluable. That 30-minutes of my time could be the difference between life and death. The checks make you very aware of the little things around the house that you don’t realise could be dangerous either to start a fire or may hinder your escape.”
Since Lifesaver was launched back in late August 2022, we have seen an amazing 11% increase in resident and external partner [local authorities, health organisations, housing associations] requests for referrals or Safe and Well checks.
Abbie Thompson, Prevention and Education Officer for TWFRS, said:
“It was a pleasure to meet with David and Lorraine and to talk about the importance of fire safety. It’s so refreshing to know that community spirit is alive and well across Tyne and Wear, and that a neighbourly action could go a long way to saving someone’s life.
“We would urge everyone out there to take David’s lead and get in touch if you have a vulnerable friend or family member who might require some advice or to have new smoke alarms fitted like in the case of Lorraine and Joseph.”
If you know someone who is vulnerable and more at risk of suffering an injury in a fire then please give us a call on 0800 0327777 or you can fill in the enquiry form on our website by visiting www.twfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/lifesaver