Firefighters are asking the Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven community to "Join the Fight Against Fire" during the festive period and winter months, a time when the risk of fire and fire injury increases.

The consumption of alcohol together with the additional risks from Christmas tree lights, decorations, candles and tea lights can place many households at high risk of fire over the festive period.

Each year a number of serious fires occur in the home over the winter and festive period particularly when people consume alcohol.

Even a moderate amount of alcohol can affect an individual's awareness and behaviour which makes people more at risk from fire.

Carelessness, negligence or forgetfulness when preparing hot meals is the most common cause of fire in the home during this time.

Gordon Kerr, Dumbarton Station Commander said: "The festive period will usually sees a rise in incident numbers and it is a hard fact that Christmas and New Year often bring a number of fire fatalities.

"Our aim with this campaign is to get members of the public switched on to the dangers of fire and to play an active role, not just in ensuring their own safety, but also the safety of those around them".

Statistical information indicates that older individuals, low income families and people on state benefits are at much greater risk of fire.

The use of alternative/unsafe forms of heating appliances, electric blankets and candles in an attempt to keep warm and minimise fuel, heating and lighting costs can increase the risk of fire occurring .

A working smoke detector is the first line of defence as this will quickly alert occupants to a developing fire giving them time to escape and summon the emergency services.

Station Commander Kerr said: "I'd remind householders to check their smoke alarms on a weekly basis as there is a concern at the number of fires that have occurred in the home where there has been no smoke alarm in place or the existing smoke alarm was defective.

"Join the fight against fire by looking after older or vulnerable neighbours particularly during severe cold weather, check your smoke alarms and above all don't fuel fire with alcohol".

Anyone requiring home safety advice, including information on Fire Escape Plan, or FREE smoke or heat alarms can request a Home Fire Safety Visit by calling Strathclyde Fire & Rescue's helpline on freephone 0800 0731 999.

For further information contact Dumbarton Fire station on 01389762222