First use of smoke hoods in Northamptonshire

Smoke hoods recently deployed by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) on every fire engine in the county as a tool to keep people safe during fire evacuations have been used for the first time by firefighters in Northampton.

Firefighters from the Mounts, Moulton and Brixworth attended a fire at a block of flats in Oakley Street, Northampton in the early hours of this morning (Friday 22 January). The fire, thought to have started by an electrical fault, had begun in a flat on the first floor, filling the building with smoke.

Firefighters evacuated the whole building, where there were more than 20 people in around 15 flats.

Two people on the second floor, which was particularly heavily smoke logged, were rescued by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus who fitted them with smoke hoods to prevent them breathing in smoke while they were quickly and safely led out of the building.

The single-use hoods provide up to 15 minutes’ protection, reducing exposure and making it much less dangerous for a person being led to safety through a smoke-logged building, by preventing them from breathing in toxic gases.

The occupants of the flat where the fire started had been woken and alerted by their smoke alarm – which had been fitted some months earlier by NFRS as part of a community safety Home Fire Safety Checks programme.

Before they left the scene some hours later, firefighters fitted smoke alarms in several more flats to increase their future safety. Crews are due to go back to the scene again today to provide further Home Fire Safety Checks to residents.

Three fire appliances were sent to the scene, Blue Watch from the Mounts and Moulton, and on call firefighters from Brixworth. The fire service was called at 12.50am and were on the scene for more than three hours.

Station Commander Richie Stevens of NFRS, said: “The building was filled with very thick smoke and if we had not had the smoke hoods, there is a good chance that the man and woman we rescued would have needed medical attention or we would have had to have found another way of evacuating them from the building.

“The smoke hoods were so simple to fit and very effective. We were able to safely lead the residents through the smoke and down the stairs and they were very relieved to be outside. And it was great to find out that a smoke alarm that we had fitted in the flat where the fire started had done its job and woken the occupants so that they could call 999 and ask for the Fire Service. We finished by fitting alarms in other flats, to protect other residents in the future. Further proof if any were needed that smoke alarms do indeed save lives.”

NFRS bought 120 fire escape or smoke hoods using special funding given by the Government after the Grenfell fire.

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