Pilot Program Targets Homeless in UK

This effort was established following two dozen fires in empty of derelict buildings.

The lantern, sleeping bag, blanket, tobacco tin and survival bag are intended to reduce the need for open flames for heat and light. The smoke detector has a 10-year battery and can be taken from place to place by the individual.

In line with WF&RS's targets for reducing fires and road traffic collisions, it is hoped that this pilot scheme will achieve the following:

  • Reduction in the incidence of fire risk
  • Reduction in the risk from road traffic collisions
  • Reduction in the feelings of vulnerability and helplessness that often accompany being homeless
  • A build up of trust with the homeless community and greater communication with the police and voluntary agencies, so that the fire & rescue service is made aware of buildings being used as refuges -- allowing fire safety advice to be given and packs provided as appropriate

As well as helping homeless people to be safer, it is hoped that the initiative will provide vital information on where people are sleeping rough. Steve Williams said: "If we know that a derelict building is used by the homeless, we will know that people could be trapped if a fire is reported. Having that extra intelligence could mean the difference between life and death for someone."

Ali Coxall, from Alabare, said: "This is a fantastic initiative by the Fire & Rescue Service, and something that we think could be unique. The street survival bags will reduce the risk of fire for our clients when they are sleeping rough, and they will be most welcome to those who receive them. We thank Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service for such generous and practical support."

Over the coming months, the success of the pilot scheme will be evaluated. The hope is to roll out this service to other parts of Wiltshire and promote it nationally as good practice.

LOUISE KNOX is the media and communications manager for Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service. You can reach Louise by e-mail at: enquiries@wiltsfire.gov.uk.