THE number of fire deaths in Glasgow more than doubled during the coronavirus crisis the most up to date figures have revealed.

While house fires dropped in number, seven people were killed as a result of blazes in the city in the past 12 months - up from three the year before.

Now fire chiefs have issued an urgent call for communities to help them reach and protect the most vulnerable people.

Area Commander Roddie Keith is asking friends, relatives, carers and neighbours to let the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service know about anyone who might be more liable to be a victim of fire.

Roddie said: "One of our key roles is to keep the people of Glasgow safe in their homes and particularly safe from fire.

"That's the focus, directly or indirectly, of everything I do.

"One of the main ways we've been trying to protect people and keep them safe from fire at home over the past several years now has been through our Home Fire Safety Visit programme.

"We've been very successful at accessing people's homes, being invited in, and assisting them to develop fire plans."

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the number of home fire safety visits carried out dropped as the service was suspended in the early days of the crisis and then introduced in a limited capacity.

Now that home visits are able to be carried out - using PPE and strict social distancing - the fire service wants to target those most in need.

Roddie added: "Our Home Fire Safety Visit plan has had to be curtailed quite significantly over the past year, particularly through our lockdown periods we've had now.

"That has been to keep people safe and not to bring infection to their homes when they might be vulnerable already, and we do have to protect our firefighters too.

"Because of this reduced ability to carry out home fire safety visits, we want to make sure the visits we do carry out are targeted at those who are most vulnerable and who would most benefit.

"So that's where our Make The Call campaign call out comes from - we are asking people, literally, genuinely asking people, to make the call if you are a friend, a carer, a relative of somebody you think may be vulnerable or at risk of fire to notify the fire service so we can contact that individual and provide them with whatever support we are able to.

Area Commander Roddie Keith at Cowcaddens Fire Station Picture: Gordon Terris

Area Commander Roddie Keith at Cowcaddens Fire Station Picture: Gordon Terris

"We can still carry out a home fire safety visit for those who are vulnerable and require it.

"We can also give out a lot of advice remotely over the phone.

"We can direct people to our website where there's a lot of information.

"And we can carry out that home fire safety visit when lockdown is eased."

For anyone who may be anxious about allowing fire fighters into their home following long periods of isolation, Roddie is reassuring that the visits are being carried out as safely as possible.

He said: "The good news is that health and safety is our business, from the day a fire fighter joins the service health and safety is at the heart of everything they do and we're now very well versed in all elements of health and safety and the appropriate steps to help us deal with situations where covid might or might not be present.

"So our staff, if they were to come to your door or enter your home, would have all of the correct PPE available to them."

Over the 12 months from April 2020 to March 2019, there were 679 house fires in the Glasgow area - a reduction of 100 from the year before.

From those fires, there were 100 casualties in the past year - again a drop, from 122 the year prior.

But despite this drop in the number of blazes, the number of fatalities rose.

Roddie said the fire service is working hard to determine the exact reason for this.

He said: "Reduction in accidental dwelling fires overall would suggest an improving picture because every house fire has the potential to hurt and harm so having fewer house fires overall should be a pleasing statistic.

"However, we're had more fatal fires over that period so our analysts are working hard to understand that figure."

Statistics show certain groups are particularly at risk.

They include: people aged over 50 who smoke; those who live alone; who receive medical oxygen; and who have mobility issues.

The Make The Call campaign asks family members and carers of people in these groups to contact the fire service directly to arrange a visit.

Friends and neighbours should speak to the person they are concerned about and have their permission to call.

Roddie said: "Like the rest of the population, they think they are safer than they actually are.

"But statistically we know they are more vulnerable."

"The pandemic has certainly had a significant impact on the way we work but we have had a large number of referrals from people calling on behalf of people who they have concerns over.

"So the initiative is working but we are really looking to reinvigorate it."

While the number of in-person home fire safety visits has dropped significantly, the service has still been able to provide support over the phone and online.

There are various ways to support the campaign.

See for information and an online form.

Or call 0800 0731 999 or text "FIRE" to 80800 from your mobile phone.