The British fire service personnel have now been directed to keep away from smokers. Don't visit them top offer safety advice, the crew have been told, unless the residents stub out all cigarettes at least one hour beforehand and open their windows.
The edict is in tune with the workplace smoking ban!
AdvertisementHowever, officials clarified that the new rules would only apply to prearranged "Home Fire Safety Visits," and not to emergencies, say when such homes catch fire.
Firefighters carried out some 40,000 such visits in London alone last year, and senior officials believe they are a key factor in driving down deaths from fires in recent years.
Anyone requesting a home visit will now be told to provide a "smoke-free environment" to avoid threatening firefighters' health.
"Where the occupants are smokers, we ask that they refrain from smoking both during the visit and for a period prior to the visit.
"We suggest a period of one hour."
Householders will also be told to "ventilate the dwelling before the visit to clear any tobacco smoke."
If these rules are not followed, and a tell-tale haze of smoke remains when the fire officer arrives at the front door, he or she must "complete a risk assessment and consider whether the visit should proceed."
If they feel the home in question is just too smoky to enter, they will provide "general fire safety advice" at the door, and try to make another appointment.
Firefighters are not impressed, though. One of them told the Daily Mail, "Perhaps we should be happy that someone's looking out for our health, but it's a sign of the way things are going - this obsession with the small print of health and safety regulations.
"This stuff is what senior officers now seem to think is important. Where's the common sense? If we turn up to a house and it's a bit smoky we can probably ask them to open a window. Do we really need a new set of official regulations to cover it?"
The London Fire Brigade defended the guidelines saying: "We are here to protect the public but we also have a very important responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment for our staff."
A spokesman said that during home visits firefighters were "just as entitled to the same level of health protection as any other employee at work.
"All we are asking is that those we are visiting refrain from smoking during the visit but we are especially aware that householders who are persistently heavy smokers are among those most at risk from fire and therefore most likely to benefit from the advice given during a visit.
"So every effort will be made to complete a home fire safety visit, as we know our community safety work has a direct impact on the reduction of fires caused by carelessly discarded cigarettes."