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Karen Bell, firefighter
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a firefighter

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…according to Karen Bell, 49

There’s a higher chance of fire in the winter

‘We’re running a campaign at the moment urging people to check their smoke alarms regularly. Winter is an increased-risk period because of open fires and people drying clothing on convector heaters. Bonfires in close proximity to the home also risk spreading.’

You shouldn’t put a smoke alarm in your kitchen

‘If you have a bedroom with hair-straighteners, a TV and a laptop – these are all electrical items that can catch fire. So we encourage people to have a working smoke alarm in every room where there’s a level of risk, with the exception of the kitchen where you should have a heat alarm installed instead.’

The rise of vaping hasn’t cut down the number of cigarette fires

‘Fires caused by smoking have actually gone up in the past year, which is a worrying trend. We’ve changed our advice from saying you can smoke safely to telling people to stop smoking completely. There are far too many people dying from fires caused by cigarettes.’

All those new tall towers spell trouble

‘In the city we’re all packed in, aren’t we? That’s why fire is more prevalent here. Look at how many high-rise buildings we currently have and how many more are being erected – the high level of people increases the number of fires.’

Yes, firefighters do still slide down poles

‘It’s the most efficient way to get from one part of the building to another in an emergency situation. We’re all trained to descend safely; there’s a whole session on it. But I’m not going to lie – it’s fun going down the pole.’

Find out the things you only know if you’re a Ripperologist.

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