Coroner's court

Fire Service recommends gas cooker valves following inquest


The death of a woman with dementia after a fire at Linby Avenue, Mansfield last year has been described as a ‘very great tragedy’ by Mr Gordon Clow, Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire.

During an inquest which finished today (Tuesday 15 December), Mr Clow recorded a narrative verdict for Vera Brewer (73) who lost consciousness and died as a result of smoke inhalation following a fire at her home on 23 December 2019.  He said the fire started when she inadvertently turned on the gas hob.

Firefighters from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service arrived at the house within five minutes of being mobilised and rescued Ms Brewer but, sadly, she died at King’s Mill Hospital the next day.  The Service is now advising families of people with dementia to install locking valves that turn off the gas supply to the cooker to help prevent a similar tragedy in future.

Mr Clow said: “This has been a very great tragedy.”  But, he added: “She would have simply lost consciousness.  She had no injuries directly as a result of the fire.”

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service Fire Investigation Manager Lucie Poxon said: “We would like to offer our condolences to Ms Brewer’s family for their loss.

“Our investigation concluded that the fire was likely caused by the accidental ignition of the cooking fat within the chip pan on the gas hob.  In the hope that similar deaths might be prevented in future, we would like to recommend that households with a person with dementia, or similar condition, consider installing a locking gas cooker valve.  These valves are key-operated and can be used to quickly and easily turn off the gas when the hob is not in use.  They can be fitted for free by Cadent, the national gas supplier.

“We would also like to highlight the importance of having sufficient working smoke alarms and can offer Safe and Well visits and provide deep fat fryers, rather than traditional chip pan baskets.”

More information about locking cooker valves is available on Cadent’s website.

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