ILFRACOMBE fire fighters have called on local people to take advantage of a free service that one day could save their family s lives. As part of a Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service campaign to reduce fire risk in all homes, the Ilfracombe crew a

ILFRACOMBE fire fighters have called on local people to take advantage of a free service that one day could save their family's lives.

As part of a Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service campaign to reduce fire risk in all homes, the Ilfracombe crew are offering free Home Safety Visits to any who want them.

"This informal visit by a uniformed fire fighter will assist you in carrying out a risk assessment of your home, providing simple advice on preventing, detecting and escaping from fires," explained fire fighter Dave Butterton from the Ilfracombe station.

"We are particularly interested in assisting those in the community most at risk from fire such as the elderly, disabled, families with children and people on income support or those in rented accommodation.

"However, the greatest mistake people make is to assume that fire only affects other people so this service is available to all."

A total of 400 people die each year following fires in their own homes.

The Home Safety Visit will cover the vital importance of smoke alarms - which have saved countless lives - and their maintenance, as well as advice on reducing the risk of fires and planning an escape route for your family in the event of a fire.

To request a Home Safety Visit, call free on 0800 7311 822. For other fire safety advice, contact the fire service helpline on (01392) 872288 or visit www.dsfire.gov.uk.

Stay alive and stay safe with a smoke alarm

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service remind you that a working smoke alarm will greatly increase your chances of escaping from a fire unharmed. Without one you and your family are more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home.

Check that a smoke alarm is fitted on each level of your property:

* Once a year - Change your battery or consider buying a ten-year alarm which will not require frequent battery changes.

* Once a week - Check the alarm by pressing the button

* Once a year - Vacuum and wipe the smoke alarm casing to ensure dust isn't blocking the sensor chamber (For mains wired alarms, switch off first).

Plan an escape route - make sure you and your family know the quickest way out in the event of fire.