PEOPLE living in flats and other buildings to keep communal escape routes clear of storage.

Clutter such as discarded Christmas trees and packaging or year-round hazards such as buggies, bikes and mattresses can block people getting out in an emergency.

And it can also hamper firefighters tackling a blaze - which it is often the cause of fires in the first place.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to ensure all passages and corridors are clear of clutter.

Business safety manager Paul Bray said: "We all know what it’s like to be drowning in discarded boxes and wrapping paper after Christmas, but leaving that rubbish to block stairways and corridors is a fire hazard which puts lives at risk.

"This can be a big problem for our crews at this time of year.

"As well as providing fuel for fires, Christmas rubbish and other items such as pushchairs or bikes left to block communal areas will become a dangerous obstacle that can slow down firefighters trying to reach a fire and save residents.

"Residents can help by not storing items in communal areas because these can cause fires that spread quickly."

He added that if any resident has concerns about clutter/storage in their means of escape, they should in the first instance raise these concerns with their neighbours.

If that doesn't bring any results, inform your landlord or the management agency. You may also refer the matter to your local housing authority.

If you cannot speak to your neighbour or landlord about fire safety concerns, contact DSFRS in confidence on 01392-872288 Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm to be put through to your local fire safety team or e-mail