Fire service launches ‘trailblazing’ virtual safety check service

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Artificial intelligence is set to supercharge the way safety advice is delivered to the public, following the launch of a new service by fire officers in South Yorkshire.

Today, Wednesday 21 July, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has launched a brand new system that allows local residents to get a virtual fire safety check from the comfort of their own homes.

All people have to do is text a number from their mobile phones, or scan a QR code, and they will be asked a series of questions on things such as smoke alarms and electricals.

They will be walked through the whole process by an artificial intelligence system that will give immediate feedback and, if necessary, ask them to book an in-person safety visit.

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As well as asking questions and giving feedback, the system will urge participants to check various appliances around the home and ensure they are safe with things such as ovens.

It’s thought that this virtual check is the first of its kind not only for the UK fire services, but for fire services right across the world, and fire officers believe it will help them them on their mission to make South Yorkshire as safe from fire as possible.

“We are really excited about this new feature and know it’s going to make thousands of people safer in their homes – which is what our service is all about,” said Group Manager Matt Gillatt, deputy head of the joint police and fire community safety department.

“These virtual checks will allow people to assess their own fire risk and get potentially life-saving safety advice, all through a mobile phone, and in the comfort of their own homes.

“To be clear, we have no intention of using this new technology to replace or reduce our current in-person home safety check provision – this is vital work which we will carry on.

“The virtual check service is an extra string to our community safety bow which is ideal for households who are generally at low risk from fire, but would still like some reassurance.

“I’d encourage everyone to scan the code or text the number and answer the different questions you are sent – as well as giving immediate feedback the system will also tell you if we think you need an in-person check from our crews.”

It’s estimated the check will take people around five minutes to complete and advice will be offered on any areas where there are causes for concern.

Should the system feel the person is high risk and in need of an in-person visit, they will be invited to request one via the service’s website.

The virtual safety check has been developed in partnership with Hello Lamp Post, a company specialising in using artificial intelligence to support public sector organisations and the communities they serve.

“We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with a Fire and Rescue Service – and we’re delighted that South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue are the first to start this journey with us,” said Tiernan Mines, CEO & Co-Founder at Hello Lamp Post.

“It’s brilliant to see the service embracing innovative digital tools to support its community, and we look forward to helping them take their engagement and communication to the next level.”

You can access the service by messaging ‘HELLO FIRE SERVICE’ to 07862 126663.

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