VULNERABLE smokers in Hull are having sprinkler systems fitted in their homes to give them greater protection from fire.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service has joined forces with other organisations for the partnership project, which is the first of its kind in the country.

Safer: Kath Majid-Bakhsh was the first person in the city to have the system fitted in her home as part of the scheme.

The pilot scheme will see about 14 homes fitted with the "misting" systems, which activate within a minute of a fire starting.

Fire officials hope the move will reduce the number of smoking- related fire deaths, make people more aware of the dangers surrounding the habit and give them a greater chance of survival should a blaze occur.

John Askew, community safety manager at the fire and rescue service, said: "Smoking is the prevailing factor in all of our fire deaths.

"It is the one thing that runs through each and every fire death.

"It is a lifestyle choice but we try to encourage people to be more responsible with their habits.

"This new system is making them safer in their own homes and it is the ultimate protection system.

"It is a small price to pay to save lives."

The scheme aims to identify vulnerable adults who live in one room of their home and not only smoke but also have mobility impairments which mean they would struggle escape from a fire.

Those who will benefit also have evidence of carelessly-discarded smoking materials in their homes.

The partnership involves the fire and rescue service, Hull City Council's adult social care and housing teams, NHS Hull, Age UK and other organisations.

The agreement is a commitment by those involved to support the initiative financially, or by referring people who are most vulnerable from a fire in their home to the fire service.

About £30,000 has been invested in the pilot scheme, which is expected to be rolled out across the brigade area within the next 12 months.

The "misting" system is a self-contained automatic fire extinguisher.

It has a smoke detector built in to it and when the alarm is activated during a fire, a battery-powered pump covers the room with water in "mist" form.

This can potentially save lives and provide valuable time to escape.

Kath Majid-Bakhsh, 81, of west Hull, was the first person in the city to have the system fitted in her home as part of the scheme.

She has smoked for 57 years and said she feels safer now it has been installed.

Kath said: "I make sure my cigarettes are put out now because I put water in my ash tray.

"The system is a very good idea. I feel safe.

"There are a lot of old people who smoke. We weren't warned about the dangers of smoking when we were young. We were encouraged."

Kath's son, Sal Bakhsh, 48, of Kirk Ella, said he was pleased his mother has been given extra protection.

"Being a smoker and the age she is, she is quite vulnerable in certain situations," he said.

"It gives us all peace of mind."

Courtesy of Hull Daily Mail