THOUSANDS of Barnsley residents who receive assisted bin collections due to their health will be given free smoke alarms as part of a new project designed to reduce the likelihood of preventable deaths.

With known links between people receiving assisted collections and risk of fire, the agreement - between Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue - has been put in place so that firefighters can contact people living at those addresses to offer them help.

There were 385 house fires across the borough in 2018/19, down from 419 in 2017/18, although injuries rocketed from just three to 15 during the same period.

There was also a slight increase in fire-related deaths last year, including 87-year-old Sylvia Talbot, of Coniston Road, Oakwell, which also led to the launch of Find The Time, a campaign which calls on those with older relatives or neighbours to take some simple steps to keep their loved ones safe.

According to fire bosses, many of those who died in their own homes were older people aged 50 or over, with investigations finding that issues such as hoarding and health problems frequently contributing to the fires starting.

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Half of those who died lived on their own, and more than 4,000 at-risk addresses have been shared by the council with SYFR.

Coun Alan Gardiner, cabinet spokesman for core services at Barnsley Council, said: “It’s great that we can partner with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to use our data to benefit our communities.

“Many residents who get an assisted waste collection have a disability or medical condition, so we’re pleased to be able to work with them to provide people with even more support to keep them safe.”

Data, gathered as part of the fire service’s ’Safe and Well Checks’ scheme that’s been a success in Barnsley, suggests over 65s require more support and one in three people in that age bracket fall each year in their own home and the older end, aged 80 and above, increases to two in three.

Steve Helps, from SYFR, added: “This is a brilliant example of where data protection laws - which are rightly in place to protect people’s information - should not get in the way of public bodies working together, in the public interest, to make people safer.

“By having the right safeguards and privacy protocols in place, we’ve shown that a common sense approach can cut duplication of effort and potentially save people’s lives.

“So many of the people who needlessly die in house fires are known to another agency whether that’s a local authority, social housing provider or health partner.

“So our aspiration is that, where appropriate, we can develop further data sharing agreements like this with other public services in the future under the legislation available to us.

“Common measures to protect those most at risk include fitting smoke alarms, providing flame retardant bedding and installing misting systems to suppress fires.”