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Kent Fire & Service Rescue Service issues cigarette safety warning

Kent Fire and Rescue Service
Kent Fire & Rescue Service issues behaviour tips to avoid fires caused by carelessness
A Whitstable woman is recovering in hospital today after being rescued by firefighters from a blaze in her home which was caused by a discarded cigarette.

Edwina Nixon fell asleep while smoking which set light to the sofa at her home in Station Road, shortly after 7pm last night.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) was alerted to the terrace property after neighbours spotted smoke and two appliances from Whitstable were sent.

Edwina's partner Steve Stubbs had been out when the blaze started and arrived home shortly before firefighters. He said: "I got to the door and found our dog Joe was behind it, I managed to drag him out but couldn't get any further in because of the smoke.

"The fire crews were then there and they had Edwina out within seconds, they were absolutely brilliant and I know that Edwina and Joe could have died if it hadn't been for them. I'd warned Edwina about cigarettes before but I think we've both learned our lesson now."

45-year-old Edwina was treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics before being taken to hospital. The dog was unconscious but was revived with oxygen therapy.

Whitstable Watch Manager David Nolan said: "This sends out a really important warning to others about the dangers of smoking and not disposing of cigarettes carefully. If it hadn't been for the neighbour, we could easily have been dealing with a fatality.

"Two retained firefighters rescued the lady and both crews did an excellent job of limiting the spread of the fire although the whole house has been smoke damaged. Our warning is that other residents might not be as lucky."

Follow these simple tips to keep you and your family safe from the threat of fire:

  • When smoking, always use a proper, heavy ashtray which can't tip over easily and is made of a material that won't burn
  • If you need to lie down, don't light up. You could easily doze off and set your bed or sofa alight
  • Take extra care when you're tired, on medication or have been drinking alcohol. It is very easy to fall asleep without realising that your cigarette is still burning
  • Tap your ash into an ashtray - never a wastebasket - and don't let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
  • Make double sure all cigarettes are out before you go to bed - wet the butts to make sure. Tip the ashtray into a metal bin, and put it outside.
  • Don't leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes lying around unattended - they can easily overbalance as they burn down, land on a carpet or newspaper and start a fire. When you put it out, make sure it is really out.
  • Protect yourself and your home by always taking care when smoking, and by fitting at least one working smoke alarm in your home. Check the batteries every month and replace them every year

KFRS offers free home fire safety checks to all residents. They take around 30 minutes and include tips on the dangers of smoking materials, care with candles, electrical safety and planning escape routes in the event of fire. Free 10-year battery smoke alarms are also fitted where needed to give early warning of fire and help people escape.

To request a Home Fire Safety Check contact your nearest fire station or call the Community Safety team for free on 0800 923 7000. For more fire safety information, log onto

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