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Partners work together to reduce risk

Key agencies from across Warwickshire are working together in a bid to reduce the number of alcohol related fires in the County.

With alcohol misuse increasing over the Christmas period, Warwickshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service and Drug and Alcohol Action Team have joined forces with partners including NHS, Swanswell and Warwickshire Police to develop a protocol setting out how local agencies should deal with alcohol users who pose fire risks, either to themselves or others.

By signing up to the protocol, key changes can now be made to the way services support alcohol users and their families through better use of shared resources and information.

As part of the initial assessment carried out by substance misuse services, residents who are thought to be at risk will be referred directly for a free home fire safety check.

Equally if firefighters are called to an incident where alcohol is thought to have been a contributing factor, they will ensure that the individual involved is offered the full support of Swanswell and other community alcohol services.

Community Fire Safety Manager, Maria Smedley said: "It is recognised that problem drinkers, and indeed problem drug users, pose a particularly high risk of causing accidental fires.

"Therefore, an assessment of fire risk, including a referral for a Home Fire Safety Check, will now form part of the comprehensive assessment in all substance misuse agencies in Warwickshire.

"We hope that this will help to reduce risk and provide those residents with the advice and support they need when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Joanne Woods, Operations Manager for Swanswell alcohol service in Warwickshire said: “At Swanswell we help people who are affected by alcohol to change their lives.

“Alcohol misuse significantly increases the risk of accidental fire so we work closely with the fire service to support our clients to stop or reduce their drinking and to put safety measures in place to reduce the harm that this causes. 

"We encourage everyone that comes in to see us to have a home fire safety check and will make contact with the community fire safety team on behalf of our clients to set this up.  For more information about the services that we provide at Swanswell please call 01788 559400.”

Portfolio Holder for Community Protection, Councillor Richard Hobbs said: “People who misuse substances such as drugs or alcohol are a real concern for us as often they don’t see the potential dangers they face.

"By signing up to the protocol we will now be able work with our partners to reduce risk in Warwickshire and provide support to more vulnerable members of our communities.”