How 9 Quid Could Save A Life
A major boost to the provision of free smoke alarms to vulnerable Suffolk residents has come from a new initiative launched by our club.
The first batch of 240 alarms purchased by the Stowmarket Gipping Valley club has now been handed over to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. The alarms will be installed in homes in Mid-Suffolk where the occupants are elderly, disabled or single parent families.
Over the next few months it is hoped that the Stowmarket initiative will be extended county-wide by the Rotary movement. Already the Framlingham Rotary Club has signed up to the scheme, and many more clubs have shown an interest in a scheme which has major benefits for local communities.
County Fire Prevention Commander Dave Pedersen described the move as 'a real life-saver'.
“For many years we have been installing smoke alarms free of charge in homes where the occupants are elderly, disabled or single parent families. Although our only statutory requirement is to provide free advice on fire safety, we believe it makes good sense to extend our work to offering free alarms to those vulnerable groups which statistics prove are at the greatest risk.
“However, the ongoing annual spend on free alarms is now more than twice the current year's budget, and clearly this situation is unsustainable. We urgently need to find an alternative source of revenue if the scheme is not to be curtailed dramatically, so for us this Rotary initiative represents manna from heaven.”
Under the Rotary scheme the Stowmarket Gipping Valley club has established a service agreement with the Fire and Rescue Service under which alarms bought by individual Rotary clubs will be supplied for free installation in homes within their own area rather than just being added to the county's overall pool.
“This means that money raised in a local community will be used for the benefit of that same community, which is an important part of a Rotary Club's ethos,” said Martin Hall, current president of the Stowmarket Gipping Valley Club.
“We have also secured a contract at extremely competitive terms with the manufacturer of the FireAngel Thermoptek smoke alarm, which is the preferred choice of alarm for 90% of the UK's fire and rescue services, including Suffolk.
“This means that we are in a very good position to extend the scheme quickly and easily to other areas, and over the next few months we will be looking to spread the message to many other Rotary Clubs, initially in Suffolk and potentially to other counties.”
At a brief ceremony held at Stowmarket Fire Station the first smoke alarm was presented by Mr Hall to Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Public Protection.
“At a time when we face immense pressure on the county's finances in every area a scheme like this is hugely beneficial to the cause of public protection in Suffolk,” said Mr Spence.
“Good fire education and advice is extremely important in reducing the risk of fire in domestic properties and therefore reducing the demands on the emergency services. However, it is never going to eliminate the risks entirely. If fire does break out, then the installation of functioning smoke alarms will alert householders at an early stage, saving lives and reducing damage to the property.
"This is a shining example of innovative collaboration with local organisations in seeking funding to secure future fire prevention activities.
“I applaud the initiative of Stowmarket Gipping Valley Rotary Club in helping us to ensure that our community is as safe as possible, and we look forward to working with you to develop the scheme in other areas of Suffolk.”