West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is changing the way it delivers home visits in a bid to help keep the most vulnerable people in our communities safe.
Today (07/02) we are launching a four week public engagement exercise asking for people’s view on the new home visit, which will be called ‘Safe and Well’.
For the past two decades WYFRS has delivered Home Fire Safety Checks, with on average around 45,000 home visits carried out each year across the county.
We believe this has had a huge impact in reducing the number of accidental fires in people’s homes.
In 2015/16 we attended 1,032 compared to 1,268 in 2009/10.
The increased awareness of smoke alarm ownership, coupled with the educational visits to homes and schools, has given rise to a cultural shift in perception with a new wave of fire safety savvy individuals and families, many of which we now consider to be ‘low risk’.
However, we currently still carry out around 40% of visits in the homes of people deemed at low risk of having a fire (figures represent 2010 – 2015).
Meanwhile, we have also learnt from experience that certain demographics deemed at higher risk of having a fire in the home – such as older people, people living with a disability, mobility problems, or smokers – also share other vulnerabilities that affect their health and wellbeing.
With this in mind, WYFRS is planning to launch a new home visit programme, Safe and Well, which will see us working closer with the health sector. The focus of the visit will remain fire safety, but firefighters will also act as the ‘eyes and ears’ for our partner agencies and will offer basic advice and make a referral where they see another issue that requires addressing.
Safe and Well is a joint enterprise between the Chief Fire Officers Association, Public Health England, NHS England, the Local Government Association and Age UK.
Safe and Well is due to launch this April on a phased basis and is expected to take around two years to fully implement due to a comprehensive training programme for staff.
Other than fire prevention the key topics of Safe and Well are falls prevention, social isolation, winter cold, crime prevention and smoking cessation.
People requesting a Safe and Well visit will be assessed, via a series of questions about their home and lifestyle, and those at higher risk will be prioritised.
If you are assessed to be low risk, with working smoke alarms in your home and no other vulnerabilities, then you will be directed to a fire safety education package, either online or via leaflets.
Area Manager for Fire Safety, Chris Kirby, said: “The new Safe and Well visits have the potential to make a real difference to West Yorkshire’s most vulnerable people.
“The Fire Service is not trying to be medics or social workers but we are highly trained to recognise risks and prevent accidents. Experience has taught us that where people are living in circumstances where there is a high risk of fire in the home, often there are other lifestyle traits that affect their overall wellbeing.
“The new visit will still focus on fire safety but where we see another issue, such as a risk of falls, we can refer through to our partner organisations.
“We’d really appreciate the public’s views on our plans for Safe and Well, so please take the time to fill out the questionnaire on our website.”
Fill out a questionnaire here
The Fire Service will be holding public awareness events across each district where people can fill out a questionnaire and they will also be available on every fire station.
Follow #WYSafe&Well on our Twitter page @WYFRS