A Newcastle resident is at less risk from fire thanks to a partnership between Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and social housing provider Leazes Homes.

Clare Rabbetts, 46, who lives in Walkergate, has had a portable domestic misting system installed in her living room. Clare, who is in a wheelchair, has significant mental and physical health disabilities. She spends most of her time in her living room, and due to her health and personal circumstances is extremely vulnerable and at increased risk of having a fire.

The portable misting system works in a similar way to a sprinkler system, but protects one room only. This system is linked to a smoke alarm, which when activated, starts the misting system spraying a fine mist into the room to cool the smoke and suppress the fire.  

It helps to maintain a breathable atmosphere, which gives vital minutes for the occupier to survive and for fire crews to rescue the vulnerable occupant, before they are overcome by the smoke and flames.  It can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a fire.

The system is also linked directly to housing managers’ Your Homes Newcastle’s telecare service, so should the unit be activated a signal will be sent to the onsite warden who would ring 999 for the fire and rescue service. Clare said: "It's nice to know I've got that little bit more protection to help me keep safe."

District Manager Peter Iveson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We work closely with our partners to keep people safe from fire. In this instance we were aware of Clare's vulnerability and had put in place a range of measures to protect her. However, she was still at significant risk from fire. Due to her circumstances, and through joint work with Leazes Homes and Your Homes Newcastle, we have been able to provide Clare with even greater protection, through the portable misting system."

Bill Midgley, Chair of Leazes Homes, said: “Leazes Homes exists to provide high quality, affordable accommodation to people in need. By working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service we are able to make Clare much safer in her own home and maintain her independence.

Ultimately we want to fit all of our supported accommodation bungalows with a sprinkler system, safeguarding the lives of more vulnerable people.

There is no doubt we are committed to fitting sprinklers to protect our most vulnerable properties and will continue to work with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and our housing manager Your Homes Newcastle to achieve this." Vice Chair of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority Nick Forbes, said: "Whilst smoke alarms alert the occupier to a fire, providing valuable time to escape; sprinkler systems prevent a fire from spreading and give vital survival time for those occupants less able to get out, as they await rescue by our firefighters.

In this instance, by working in partnership, we have been able to protect a vulnerable member of our community who is at a significant risk from fire, by using a portable misting system to protect the room where the risk is greatest and they spend most of their time.” "We have a small number of portable domestic misting systems, which can be quickly installed to protect a single room in the homes of vulnerable residents who are at risk from fire. 

We then work closely with our partners to encourage the installation of sprinkler systems to protect the entire property. This is all part of our commitment to promote the installation of sprinkler systems into homes and businesses to provide the ultimate protection from fire." Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Sunderland City Council recently installed a portable domestic misting system in a house in Sunderland. In Gateshead sprinklers are being retrospectively fitted to Regents Court, a ten-storey block with 160 flats run by The Gateshead Housing Company.

The refurbishment is part of a multi-million pound investment scheme by The Gateshead Housing Company and Gateshead Council to upgrade fire safety measures in over 20 residential high rise accommodation blocks across the borough.