Fire service and charity working together to promote safety

Posted on February, 2023

We're pleased to share this press release, originally published by East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, about our joint work

Local Domestic Abuse charity RISE and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are working in partnership to provide free fire safety support for people experiencing, or who have escaped, domestic abuse.

On 18 January 2023, RISE welcomed a fire safety training session from the Service for front line staff.

This training included the basics of identifying a fire, common causes of fire, and general fire safety at home. The training also covered the potential dangers caused by hoarding and additional risks present for those experiencing domestic abuse and violence. RISE staff were pleased to hear about the option of home safety visits, from female officers, for survivors of domestic abuse.

Sanctuary Scheme Caseworker Helen, who has referred service users for a home safety assessment said:

"The training has been really useful and I've already used the referral scheme. It's fantastic that the service understands the additional risks that can be present for women experiencing domestic abuse, and that they can and will provide personalised support to our service users, reflecting their individual needs. The Service can prioritise clients at high risk of harm or arson, they can be creative with contact and visits to keep clients safe, and they can support with electrical safety, blanking plates for letterboxes, and undertake external risk assessments.

As part of my most recent referral, uniformed female officers visited a woman in her home, gave practical advice on what she could do to make her home safer and installed smoke alarms. They set up a flag on her address, meaning that any fire alert from the property would immediately indicate the possibility of additional risk, allowing the Service to prepare and provide a personalised response. It was a really good, co-ordinated response and my client was really happy with how the whole process went."

RISE CEO Jo Gough said:

‘When someone is in the thick of trauma due to the abuse they have experienced, it can be impossible for them to hold onto practical ideas like keeping access and exits clear or going through a fire plan with a child. RISE is pleased to work in partnership with the team at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service on this important issue, and to be able to provide this valuable training for our front-line teams so they can help keep survivors safe.”

Dawn Whittaker, Chief Fire Officer of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service added:

"The work our prevention team and our crews, to assist those who are at risk of fire in their homes, is vital. Prevention is always better than cure. We also have specialist advisers (Safe and Well advisers) who assist with awareness, referral schemes and specialist equipment.

Working with charities such as RISE also helps us to ensure we are learning and checking our assumptions. We are sensitive to the differing needs of people as no two situations are the same and we have worked hard to ensure we are people centric."

About RISE:

RISE stands for Refuge, Information, Support and Education.

Founded in 1994, RISE support women, children & LGBT+ people in Brighton & Hove and surrounding areas who are affected by domestic abuse.

RISE services include crisis accommodation, a helpline, counselling, support groups, legal and housing advice, children’s services and a specialist LGBT+ Service.

About Domestic Abuse:

In any one year, there are 13 million separate incidents of physical violence or threats of violence against women from partners or former partners. (Walby and Allen, 2004)

Women are at the greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner. (Lees, 2000).

Police receive one call a minute for assistance at a domestic abuse-related incident – around 1300 calls every day. (Stanko 2000)

In 75-90 per cent of cases, children are in the same or next room when violence occurs. (Hughes 1992. Abrahams 1994)

54% of UK rapes are committed by a woman’s current or former partner. (Walby and Allen, 2004)

In a study by Shelter, 40% of all homeless women stated that domestic violence was a contributor to their homelessness. Domestic violence was found to be “the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless”

(Cramer and Carter, 2002)