Fire death anniversary marked by campaign call

101_0222A woman who lost her son in a chip pan blaze is marking the 10th anniversary of his death by backing a Cleveland Fire Brigade safety campaign to reduce accidental kitchen fires.

Lynn Ford says the memories of what happened in December 2005 haunt her every day and is keen to prevent others suffering a similar fate.

Her support comes after latest figures show that nearly half the accidental fires in homes last year started in the kitchen.

In 2015 there were 140 accidental dwelling fires in Cleveland and 62 (45%) started in the kitchen.  Of these, there were 20 in Stockton, 19 in Middlesbrough, 14 in Redcar and Cleveland and 9 in Hartlepool.

Out of the 62 kitchen fires, 26 (40%) were related to cooking. The peak periods are breakfast, lunchtime and tea time.

Lynn’s son Andrew died aged 22 after a chip pan burst in to flames early in the morning at the family home in Surbiton Road, Stockton. He had been out celebrating a friend’s birthday.  His brother Christopher, then aged 18, escaped by jumping out of an upstairs window.

Care Assistant Lynn said: “Even though it was ten years ago it still seems like it was only yesterday. You have to live with it every day. You cannot underestimate the dangers in the kitchen and the terrible power of fire.

“I miss Andrew so much but if something good and positive can be learnt from what happened then his life was not in vain. People have to know they must take extra care when cooking. A tragedy can happen in seconds.”

Cooking related fires have come down 83% in the last ten years. There were 150 in in 2005 compared to the 26 last year.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Lynn is a tireless campaigner for kitchen safety and has shown immense courage and compassion for the welfare of others. She has stepped forward to help us drive home the message that the kitchen is the most hazardous room in the home. It could be you and we don’t want anyone else to go through such heartbreak.

“While we have worked very hard to reduce the numbers of accidental house fires over the last 10 years incidents can and still occur and Lynn’s harrowing story is a stark reminder of the need to take extra care. Chucking out your chip pan could save your life and following other simple rules and being sensible when cooking can reduce the risk of fire.”

Top safety tips:

  • Stand by your pan – NEVER leave cooking unattended. It is the cause of 46% of kitchen fires
  • Chuck out your chip pan – it could save your life. Chip pans cause 24% of kitchen fires
  • Keep your cooker clean – burnt food can and does cause fires
  • Keep tea towels and clothes away from the cooker and hob
  • Don’t let pan handles stick out – they could easily get knocked off.