Nine deaths on Christmas Day still haunt MP campaigning for smoke alarms

MP Alistair Burt.
MP Alistair Burt.

The memory of nine deaths on Christmas Day haunts me still, says North East Bedfordshire MP Rt Hon Alistair Burt.

He is supporting a drive to ensure smoke alarms are fitted in all rented property, backed by the Association of Chief Fire Officers including Bedfordshire.

The Government is currently consulting on whether or not to make fitting them compulsory.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, March 3 to Minister Brandon Lewis, Mr Burt said: “On Christmas Day 1984 nine people, including four children, died in a house fire in Bury, Lancashire, where I was the MP. The deaths were caused by a combination of a cigarette, a man falling asleep, foam filled furniture and no smoke alarm. Despite the many improvements made in fire safety, does the Minister not agree that every family that goes to sleep without a smoke alarm is at risk, and there is now no excuse for these not to be fitted in every rented house?”

Mr Burt said: “I visited the property at 7am on Christmas Day, immediately after being told of the tragedy. It haunts me still, and I can vividly remember the shock of the fire officers on the scene. Following this I campaigned on smoke detectors and foam filled furniture for some years, and have been pleased to see many changes and improvements resulting in fewer such awful incidents.

“But to fit them in all rented property is a further essential step. There is no reason why any home in my constituency should be without a smoke detector as a disproportionate number of the now mercifully fewer deaths in houses occur where there is no such alarm.”

The consultation with the Dept of Communities and Local Government runs until Friday, March 21.