Fire at a block of flats in Saltcoats

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999 callers given survival advice by Control firefighters as smoke from a fire on a landing travelled through the building.

Control 6 - July 2010 - L Anderson .JPG (no SFRS Badge)

Control firefighters provided survival guidance to people in two flats as a fire in a close caused smoke to travel throughout the building in Saltcoats early this morning (Thursday 24 December).

The first of several 999 calls reporting the incident at Canal Street was made to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) at 12:40am.

With reports of people trapped on the upper floors Operations Control at Johnstone mobilised two appliances from Ardrossan Community Fire Station along with a third from Kilwinning and firefighters reached the scene around four minutes later.

Six firefighters in breathing apparatus worked inside the three-storey building, using a high pressure jet to extinguish a fire on the first floor landing.

Station Manager Vicky Neill of Operations Control Johnstone said: “When someone is trapped by a fire it can obviously be an incredibly frightening experience.

“Our advice is always for everyone to immediately get out if it’s safe to do so, but where a caller’s exit is blocked by smoke or fire then all our personnel are trained to provide them with potentially life-saving support.”

She continued: ““Throughout this incident Control firefighters stayed on the lines with two callers to provide them with survival advice, reassure them that help was on its way and gather information on their specific whereabouts within the flats.

“While they talked to the callers their colleagues radioed the information to crews at the scene, meaning breathing apparatus teams operating inside the building knew where people were.”

Informed of the callers locations, firefighters at the scene made contact with people in the upper floor flats, led four people to safety and confirmed everyone was accounted for.

The four people – two men and two women – received precautionary check-ups from ambulance personnel, which determined none of them needed to go to hospital.

A fire in a communal close will quickly spread smoke throughout a building, blocking people’s exit route and leaving residents trapped in their flats.

Even a small bag of rubbish can create enough smoke to fill a close so residents of flats are urged to make sure items like household rubbish, old furniture and unwanted items are never kept on landings or stairs.

Advice on how to keep communal closes clear and what to do if a fire does start is available on the SFRS website at www.firescotland.gov.uk/media/706798/common_stairs_posterflyer_generic.pdf.

As with any fire, early warning is crucial to buying people the time they need to get to safety and firefighters time to reach anyone who is trapped, meaning working smoke alarms are essential devices for every home.

Free home fire safety visits are available from SFRS by calling the freephone number 0800 0731 999, texting ‘check’ to 61611, or filling out a form at www.firescotland.gov.uk.

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