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Posted June 26, 2006 EST

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Landmark Visit In Home Safety Drive
A retired Church Army officer can sleep soundly knowing her home has become the 50,000th on Teesside to have a free fire safety check. Joan Hornby signed up for a visit from Cleveland Fire Brigade a fortnight ago, little realising she'd help the force pass the 50,000 milestone.

And she hopes the scheme will continue to blaze a trail towards safer homes.

Miss Hornby, 62, welcomed fire officers into her Marske home having signed up at a University of Teesside event.

She said: "My property's up for sale, so I thought it would be good to have a check.

"I have fire alarms, but I was a bit concerned about the one on the landing because I couldn't get it to work.

"I had no idea I was the 50,000th, but it just shows a lot of people are thinking like I am about fire safety."

The brigade launched the scheme in June 2003.

Firefighters aim to carry out a free fire safety check in every home throughout Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar within five years.

Checks involve firefighters visiting to talk about fire safety, highlight fire risks, help make an escape plan in case of a fire and fit smoke alarms, or install a ten year battery if alarms are already fitted.

Chief Fire Officer John Doyle, who presented Miss Hornby with flowers, said: "Since we started the scheme, we have reduced accidental fires in properties by 34pc, which is a fantastic achievement."

Redcar MP Vera Baird said: "Prevention is much better than cure. By cutting the numbers of fires it is saving lives and even minor fires can cause injury and wreck houses."

Written by Evening Gazette - Middlesbrough

Courtesy of © 2006, YellowBrix, Inc. - YellowBrix