A FAMILY on Exmoor had a lucky escape when they awoke to an early-hours fire which had broken out in the living room of their farmhouse on Monday (February 19).

Fire crews from Dulverton were among three sets of firefighters who were called out to the incident, which happened near Skilgate shortly after 1.30 am.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue (DSFR) also mobilised pumps from Bampton and Tiverton and the crews arrived to find the building smoke logged.

They quickly used breathing apparatus to enter the farmhouse and were able to help identify the cause as logs on fire next to a wood burning stove.

The farmhouse was fitted with mains powered smoke and heat alarms across both floors but the smoke alarms were more than 10 years old and the backup batteries had died, causing them to ‘beep’ as a warning.

The owner had not realised the model of their alarms required pressing and holding a button for a few seconds to trigger a test and assumed they were not working and removed them from the mounting units.

A DSFR spokesperson said: “On reflection, they realised how lucky they were that they awoke to discover there was a fire downstairs.

“Smoke alarms generally have a 10-year life and warranty, the expiry date will be printed on the side normally.

“It is really important to replace them when they come to the end of their life and to test them regularly.

“Thankfully, in this case the damage was contained to the fireplace and everybody in the property was safe and well.”

The spokesperson said with interconnected alarms, the button should continue to be held down once the test alarm had activated and it would then trigger the other devices on the circuit to confirm all were operational.

More help and advice available can be found on the DSFR website here.

The spokesperson said anybody who was unsure could always contact their local fire station where the crews would be able to give advice.

They said: “Make sure you know how your alarms work and how to test them regularly.”