May 27 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Norfolk Fire and Rescue service is helping to improve fire safety at a Zimbabwean children’s home which was devastated by a blaze.
A nine-year-old boy died when fire raged through the Mary Ward Children’s Home in Kwekwe in central Zimbabwe last May, destroying one of the home’s four buildings.
The home had not been fitted with smoke alarms, which would have given an early warning to the staff and orphans sleeping inside, and given them vital minutes to escape.
In an attempt to avert further such tragedies, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is helping to deliver fire safety advice and guidance to the home and ensure it is completely fire safe when it has been rebuilt.
Fire safety specialists Sprue Safety Products has also donated 50 smoke alarms to be fitted in the building to protect the children and staff.
During the fire last year a nine-year-old boy called Aaron died, and 17-year-old Takudzwa suffered severe burns.
Boys sleeping in St Francis House were woken by the smoke and some rushed to attempt to extinguish the fire, risking their lives to save others, but were overcome by the smoke and intense heat.
Craig Lannie, of Sprue Safety Products, said: “It’s an absolute tragedy that a young life was lost in this fire.
“Smoke alarms really do save lives – research shows that if you have a smoke alarm, you’re more likely to discover a fire in under five minutes, minimising the risk of death or injury.
“We want to make sure that everyone at the Mary Ward Children’s Home will be safe from any risk of fire in the future, so further tragedies can be prevented.”
Stuart Horth, head of community safety, community engagement and youth development at Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service, said the smoke alarms were part of a wider package of guidance and education.
He said: “This was a devastating fire with such sad consequences, which could have been avoided if the home had had smoke alarms.
“We’re now working with the charity in the rebuild to ensure that the new accommodation is completely fire safe. As well as supplying the smoke alarms from Sprue, we will be providing guidance and advice to the staff and children on how to stay safe, minimise any fire risks and help them plan a quick and easy escape route.”
The Mary Ward Children’s Home, founded in 1993, looks after orphaned, abandoned, neglected and abused children in Zimbabwe, helping them to escape difficulties in their lives and find a way into education.
To find out more about the home, see maryhome.tripod.com
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