The Department for Communities and Local Government has published the latest Fire Statistics for Great Britain covering the period April 2013 to March 2014.
The key points are:
- The figure for the number of fires attended showed that the general downward trend of the last 10 years is continuing. Last year, fire and rescue services attended a total of 505,600 fires or false alarms, 2% higher than the previous year but less than half of that 10 years ago, and 212,500 actual fires, also down over the decade despite being a 10% increase on 2012-13 which was unusually low due to wet weather conditions.
- Outdoor fires constituted 68% of fires, while 19% were dwelling fires, a 5% decrease on the previous year. The report showed that fires peaked between 8pm and 9pm (9% of all fires) and that while only 11% of fires occurred between midnight and 5am, these caused one fifth of all deaths.
- There were 322 fire-related deaths, 20 fewer than the previous year and the lowest recorded in the last 50 years. The highest recorded figure was 967 in 1985-86. 80% of these occurred in dwelling fires, with more than half of the victims aged 65 or over – the risk of dying in a fire for people aged 80 or over is more than four times the average.
- Of the 258 deaths in dwellings, 85% were accidents, the main cause (39%) being careless handling of fire or hot substances (e.g, careless disposal of cigarettes). 43% resulted from fires which started in the living room or dining room.
- Scotland continues to have a higher rate of fire deaths compared to England and Wales, although it declined by about a third compared to the previous year.
- There were 9748 non-fatal casualties, 5% and 36% lower compared to the previous year and ten years ago respectively.
- There were 39,600 dwelling fires, 5% fewer than in 2012-13. 80% were accidental, with the main cause being the misuse of equipment/appliances and cooking appliances being the source of ignition for more than half.
- 31% of dwelling fires – 12,000 – occurred where no smoke alarm was fitted, accounting for 38% of deaths in home fires, with a further 29% occurring where a smoke alarm was present but not working, accounting for nearly one fifth of deaths.
- There were 22,200 fires recorded in non-domestic buildings, a decline of more than half on a decade ago.
- There were 23,100 road vehicle fires, 77% lower than the peak in 2001-02. The number of deaths from such fires reached its lowest level since the fire data record began in 1981-82, with 33 fatalities.
Fire Statistics for Great Britain
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.