20 February 2015


50% of accidental residential fires affect those aged 65–80 according to the latest official Fire Statistics.

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 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, less than half of 10 years ago, and 212,500 actual fires, also down over the decade.

The statistics show that as a whole greater awareness, better training, and advances in technology are all playing their part in reducing fires and the consequences of fire. Below are ten key statistics which are relevant to residential fires and clearly demonstrate that we cannot become complacent.

  • Fires peaked (9%) between 8pm and 9pm, 11% occurred between midnight and 5am and 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.
  • 80% of these occurred in dwelling fires.
  • More than half of the victims were aged 65 or over.
  • The risk of dying in a fire for people aged 80 or over is more than four times the average.
  • Scotland continues to have a higher rate of fire deaths compared to England and Wales.
  • There were 9,748 non-fatal casualties, 5% lower compared to the previous year.
  • There were 39,600 dwelling fires, 5% fewer than in 2012-13. 80% were accidental.
  • 31% of dwelling fires – 12,000 – occurred where no smoke alarm was fitted, accounting for 38% of deaths in home fires
  • 29% occurring where a smoke alarm was present but not working, accounting for nearly one fifth of deaths.

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.

Providing vulnerable and elderly people in sheltered and social housing with a more reliable and robust method of alerting the Fire and Rescue Services should form part of any Fire Risk Assessment. Relying on a shared, unmonitored (Telecare) telephone line in a fire emergency can and has resulted in delays summoning help. Only DualCom SafeLink® provides secure line monitoring and a wireless back-up service, signalling directly into existing Telecare monitoring platforms.  

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