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Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 23:01 GMT
EastEnders smoke scene attacked
EastEnders sign
EastEnders accused of 'grossly irresponsible behaviour'
A fire chief has severely criticised EastEnders after Tuesday night's episode of the TV soap showed a character breaking a smoke alarm with a broom handle.

London Chief Fire Officer Brian Robinson accused the BBC of "grossly irresponsible behaviour" and highlighted the fact that some 20 people have died in domestic fires so far this year - more than half of them in the East End of London where the programme is set.

Mr Robinson said: "The scene at the start of the episode showed a smoke-filled kitchen with the occupant disabling the smoke alarm - which was doing its job by bleeping - by smashing it with a broom handle.


Most of the string of deaths in London could have been avoided if working smoke alarms had been fitted

Brian Robinson
London's chief fire officer
"This is just appalling when you consider the number of lives lost in fires in the first 10 weeks of the year, an average of two deaths each week in London alone."

The irate fire chief complained that the message emerging from the show was that smoke alarms were "nuisances rather than life savers".

He said: "The other major problem with the scene was that the smoke alarm was wrongly sited.

"The fire service would always advise people not to put them in kitchens at all."

Mr Robinson said the London Fire Brigade would be putting a "strongly worded" complaint to the BBC in writing without delay.

"Most of the string of deaths in London could have been avoided if working smoke alarms had been fitted," he said.

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