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COOKING fires continue to be an issue in the Halliwell area of Bolton and in a bid to reduce incidents of this kind Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has launched a safety campaign with the help of a Halliwell resident.
66-year-old Margaret Shearer of Shelley Walk, Halliwell, experienced a cooking fire in January 2015 and is working with GMFRS to support the campaign and give it a local touch.
On the evening of Tuesday, January 20, 2015, just before 8pm Margaret put a cooking pot on her stove to make some tea when it began to smoulder and give off smoke.
The incident resulted in firefighters forcing their way into Margaret’s home with ambulance staff treating her for the effects of smoke.
White Watch from Bolton Central attended Shelley Walk on the night of the fire with colleagues from Bolton North.
There was no answer from Margaret when crew members arrived so they gained entry by smashing a small window near the front door and reaching through to open the door.
Margaret said: “I remember on the night of my incident I had put some noodles in a pot on the cooker for my tea and gone for a sit down. I must have dozed off - my medication can make me drowsy at times.
“My neighbours heard my smoke alarm going off and called 999 and even though I could hear the alarm and smell smoke I couldn’t get myself up off the couch due to my medication.”
Over a 12-month period, from April 2014 to March 2015, 15 cooking fires broke out in Halliwell and as a result staff from GMFRS have been working to raise awareness in the area about staying safe at home while cooking.
GMFRS staff members have spent time in the UCAN Centre on Hatfield Road raising the profile of the Service and helping people to stay safe at home. Firefighters and other GMFRS workers attended the centre’s open day on Saturday, June 6, where a number of Home Safety Checks (HSCs) were arranged for local people to keep them safe.
Funding was secured to support the campaign, meaning that a small number of deep fat fryers and specialist oven cleans have been purchased. While carrying out HSCs in Halliwell firefighters will assess whether they think residents will benefit from a deep fat fryer and/or an oven clean to lower the chance of them having a fire.
A poster campaign will run in the area for a fortnight from Monday, August 10, 2015, with design work being displayed on two billboards - one on Blackburn Road at the junction of Prospect Street and one on St George’s Road, along with a bus shelter on Halliwell Road.
There will also be flyers distributed in the area in theme with the posters that will be distributed in the area encouraging people to visit GMFRS’ website for more information about the campaign and for safety advice.
On Thursday, August 13, 2015, Margaret went to see the billboard on St George's Road and was pleased with the end result.
Margaret said: “I’ve really enjoyed helping the fire service with its campaign and hope I can help other people stay safe at home.
“After the article appeared in The Bolton News my friends at the Salvation Army gave me a big round of applause and my son said he got a surprise seeing a big picture of me on a billboard. Also, my niece in Scotland rang to say she had seen me on the internet.”
You can get free home safety advice by calling 0800 555 815 or visiting www.manchesterfire.gov.uk
You can also find advice on staying safe in the kitchen on our website here - http://manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice/home_fire_safety/safety_in_kitchen/