Kent Fire and Recue Service (KFRS) is teaming up with Age UK Maidstone and other support groups for older people and carers to highlight the free services they provide to help keep older people safe from fire and prepared for the winter period.
Statistics show that the risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages – but KFRS is increasing its focus on ensuring older residents have the help they need to live safely and independently in their own homes.
Head of Community Safety Lee Rose said: “Activities to help older people prevent fires and keep themselves safe are a growing part of Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s community safety work over the coming years.”
The activity will coincide with the start of CFOA UK Ageing Safely week (29 September - 6 October) which incorporates UK Older People’s Day (Wednesday 1 October) and will continue throughout the colder months.
Lee added: “Our specialist teams will be working with our partners, such as Age UK and carer support groups to get the message across that free help is available to the most vulnerable members of our communities. These are the hardest residents to reach, either because they don’t realise the extent to which KFRS and other organisations can help or they are concerned that there may be a cost associated.
He continued: “We need people who are the eyes and ears in the community to help keep the people you care for, or come into contact with, safe from fire by letting them know about our services.”
Free help includes, where needed, free home safety visits and specialist equipment for more ‘at risk’ residents, including smoke alarms designed for visually and hearing impaired people. Other help might include providing items such as fireproof bedding and fire retardant materials for immobile smokers, and safety gadgets such as cooker switches for people who may have dementia, who have become forgetful about turning the cooker off.
In forthcoming months, KFRS’s specially trained KFRS volunteers will be visiting the Age UK Maidstone day centre groups offering information chats to provide information about our services to their staff, volunteers and attendees.
Age UK Maidstone Information and Advice Manager Angela Kent said: “Age UK Maidstone refers many clients and carers to KFRS for specialist support and advice, particularly for the very frail and vulnerable who are at higher risk of being trapped in their homes in the unforeseen circumstances of a fire breaking out.
“Many of our clients have been given specialist equipment that has enabled them to continue to live at home safely but independently. Age UK Maidstone has a good working relationship with KFRS who equally refer frail and vulnerable clients to us for support where possible.”
KFRS is signed up to the Government’s Dementia Pledge and many staff are also trained to give ‘Dementia Friends’ awareness training, both to its staff and to other community groups.
KFRS volunteers who have become dementia champions will be giving talks to firefighters at stations in rural communities in Kent, to encourage crews to increase their awareness of some of the issues of dementia.
Activities over CFOA UK Ageing Safely week:
- Monday 29 September – KFRS’s vulnerable person liaison officer will be going along to a ‘caring in confidence course’ aimed at carers, family and friends organised by Carers Support Ashford
- Wednesday 1 October – Community safety officers and KFRS volunteers will be supporting Age UK Maidstone and promoting the range of free services KFRS offers at a pop-up shop in the Mall shopping centre, Maidstone from 9.30am to 3pm
- Wednesday 1 October – KFRS will have a stall at the Living in Safety event organised by Swale Borough Council, Healthy Living Centre, Broadway, Sheerness between 10am and 1pm
- Thursday 2 October – KFRS staff will have a stall and be giving a 10-minute talk at Tonbridge and Malling Seniors Group information and advice event and the Angel Centre Tonbridge between 10am and 1.30pm
- Thursday 2 October – KFRS volunteers will be running an information stand at an event at Ashford Older Persons Forum from 12 – 3 pm
- Friday 3 October – The community liaison officer will be giving a presentation about the specialist services KFRS provides to vulnerable residents at the Community Mental Health Team away day
- Sunday 5 October – KFRS volunteer will have an information stand at the free ‘Silver Sunday’ event for the over 65s organised by the Thanet Volunteer Bureau.
Further free fire safety advice is available on this website, by calling (free from landlines) 0800 923 7000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
What does Age UK do?
Age UK Maidstone covers the whole of Maidstone and Malling areas and has around 50 paid staff and 100 volunteers. It offers a free information, advice and advocacy service, has access to charitable funds for cases of hardship, as well as disability travel vouchers and an extensive range of other (chargeable) support services. These include independent living support (domestic help), foot care, day care facilities, bathing, handyman services, befriending, hearing clinics. For free advice call 0800 169 65 65.