FIREFIGHTERS across the town will carry fire escape hoods to protect local residents from toxic smoke at fires.

The hoods will provide members of the public with up to 15 minutes of protection from the four main fire gases - carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride and acrolein - and can be worn by conscious or unconscious people.

The new equipment doesn’t provide oxygen, but it does temporarily filter toxic smoke to make breathing easier.

Andy Strelczenie, head of emergency response, said: “Smoke from fires is extremely toxic and just a few breaths can render you unconscious.

“These hoods filter out the most dangerous gases.

“These hoods will also provide firefighters with vital extra time to consider their priorities and plan the safest exit route, as opposed to simply getting people out as quickly as possible.

“Fire crews have been trained in their use and we think the money we’ve spent on them is a relatively small price to pay for something which has the potential to save someone’s life.”