Free fryers to cut fire danger

Firefighters are giving away free deep fat fryers in Wigan and Leigh in a bid to cut house fires.

Vulnerable residents, believed to be at serious risk of being injured or killed in kitchen fires, are offered a brand new fryer worth 30 – in exchange for their old chip pan.

Chip pan fires cause a fifth of all accidental dwelling fires attended by firefighters in the UK each year.

Nearly 20 people are killed or injured every day in accidental fires which start in their kitchen – and the most common cause is chip pans which have been left unattended.

Wigan firefighters decide whether residents should be offered a deep fat fryer when they carry out routine home fire risk assessments across the borough.

Atherton fire station commander Colin Waite said: "It's a judgement call. Firefighters have been given guidelines and look at a number of factors. We only hand out the fryers to the most vulnerable people and they have to give us their chip pan in return.

"This is one of our initiatives to cut down on the number of chip pan fires in the borough. We would like nobody to have a chip pan.

"People die in chip pan fires. In a lot of cases, people come back from the pub and put their chip pan on and then fall asleep while it is warming up.

"If you put a pan of water on, it will just boil dry and the pan will melt but once you put a chip pan on and leave it, it will eventually catch fire.

"You can leave a deep fat fryer on all day and it will never catch fire because it's got a thermostat."

Firefighters currently have around 100 deep fat fryers available to give away.

The cash to buy the fryers has come from various fire service budgets.

So far 30 fryers have been given to residents.

However, borough fire commander John Harding stressed that the fire service only has sufficient resources to hand out free fryers to the most vulnerable householders – and even then they are only given in exceptional circumstances.

People who may qualify include Alzheimers sufferers, some elderly or disabled people and drug takers and alcoholics who may be likely to fall asleep leaving chip pans heating on their cookers.

In the past, financial year firefighters have carried out free home fire risk assessments at 4,390 properties across Wigan and Leigh.

The visits, which can be requested by residents, involve officers giving advice about potential fire risks in homes, drawing up an escape route for the individual or family living there in case they suffer a house fire and fitting free smoke alarms with batteries if none are fitted.

For more information about free home fire risk assessments, call 0800 555 815.