AN MP has given her backing to a campaign to force private landlords to fit smoke alarms in their properties.

Jenny Chapman, MP for Darlington, joined firefighters from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service to raise awareness of the risks of living in a home with no working smoke alarm.

Research shows that people are four times more likely to die as a result of a house fire if they do not have a working smoke alarm fitted.

Of the house fires attended by the fire service in County Durham and Darlington between April 2013 and March this year, 43 per cent did not have a functioning smoke alarm.

The Government is considering whether to introduce legislation to tackle the problem and force landlords to act.

Dominic Brown, community protection and prevention manager for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Nationally deaths and injuries from fires have reduced considerably in recent years.

“However, the majority of victims continue to be those who are most vulnerable, often living in private rented accommodation. Making it a legal requirement for all landlords to fit smoke alarms will improve the safety of hundreds of families and stop dozens of people from losing their lives to fire each year.”

Ms Chapman said: “I have seen first-hand the excellent prevention work that the fire service does and I know that the smoke alarms save lives.

“That’s why I am supporting this excellent initiative. We want our residents in the borough to be as safe as possible. Fire destroys lives and it destroys property – the economic cost and the human cost can be saved for the sake of a few pounds.”