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Advice Centre

A Silent Killer – How At Risk UK Properties Are From Fire

It’s a sound we all dread, but one that’s still worryingly common in the UK – being woken at night by the shrill screech of a fire alarm, or even the eerie near-silent crackle of fire. It’s not a situation any home owner or property landlord wants to be faced with as the effects can be catastrophic, with a large financial cost – as well as a potential human cost too.

New statistics were released in 2014, showing the current trends in both accidental and deliberate fires across Great Britain. The data was enormously comprehensive, and showed some really interesting and useful trends for everyone from home owners to commercial landlords. Read our key takeaway points below:

  • One-third of fires occurred in homes where there was no fire alarm
  • 65% of deaths occurred in non-residential buildings were there was no smoke alarm.
  • Dwelling fires account for three-quarters of fire-related fatalities
  • Smoker’s materials caused the largest share of deaths
  • Biggest cause of death and non-fatal injury in fires is smoke inhalation.
  • Number of fires last year fell by almost 30% from the previous year; down more than 60% from the last 10 years.
  • Essex, Devon & Somerset have the highest fatal casualty rates.
  • Computers were the most common office equipment culprit for fires; faulty leads & appliances mainly to blame.
  • Statistically, elderly people are almost twice as likely to die in a fire.
  • Fire fatalities in England fell by 10% in 2013. 

 

While current figures have shown a great reduction since a peak 10 years ago, there were still almost 200,000 reported fires in Great Britain last year – read on for our in-depth analysis, and find out what the risks in your area might be.

This is the main data we’re interested in – fires in Britain hit a peak about ten years ago, topping out at over 570,000 fires in 2003/4. Since then, the decline has been pretty steady and consistent with just over 270,000 fires in 2012 – almost a 50% reduction in just under 10 years. This is incredibly positive, and shows that a focus on fire safety and management (both domestically and commercially) in recent years is paying off in terms of prevention.

It’s accidental fires, rather than deliberate acts of arson, which account for a majority of fires in Great Britain – so what are the causes behind them? Appliances seem consistently to be the number one culprit, with the misuse of appliances and faulty appliances combined accounting for almost 20,000 fires last year.


With the culprits of these residential fires identified, the latest government data even allows us to drill down as far as the ignition sources. We can see consistently year on year that cooking appliances, such as ovens, microwaves, hobs and kettles, are the most prevalent cause. This means that homeowners and landlords alike can identify the kitchen as perhaps the most 'at risk' room in a domestic property. Protection in these areas is vital; fire blankets, extinguishers and alarms can all help to deal with a fire, and door seals can stem the spread.

But what about fires outside of the home – where are the risks here? Non-residential fires only make up a small percentage of the total fires, but broken down we can see that retail, distribution and catering properties present the bigger risk. These top three made up around 8,000 fires in Great Britain last year, with schools and construction sites being the least likely to experience fire.

So what are the consequences of this large number of fires? Despite the downward trend over the last 10-15 years, the knock on financial cost is still considerably high, with the most recent government figures released (in 2011) showing the cost standing at more than £3.2bn.

While the data varies from region to region, which you can select in the graph above, the overall leading cost is that of property damage. The speed at which fire spreads, the structural damage it can do and the loss of possessions or assets really hammers home that it’s not just prevention that’s important – it’s management of fire.

Is the alarm raised soon enough? Does your property have measures in place to contain the spread of fire? All of this is vital to minimising the overall cost – the sooner this happens throughout the country, the sooner we’ll see a reduction in cost of fires.

It’s a sad fact of fires, particularly those in residential dwellings, that there’s not just the risk of casualties but also fatalities. While the current trend is seeing a downward turn in fata casualties, these latest figures show a consistent and worryingly high trend of smoke inhalation being the leading cause of fatal casualties.

Latest government research has shown that around one-third of fires broke out in a residential building, such as a home or an apartment building, where there was no fire alarm – and these properties accounted for 65% of the total deaths. This really demonstrates the importance of proper notification of fires, as well as ensuring fire and smoke can’t spread too easily.

If you’re looking to improve your property’s ability to contain and withstand a fire, as well as raise the alarm as soon as possible then it’s important to focus on equipment you can add and improvements you can make. Take a look at our full range of fire management products, which can help tailor a fire prevention solution to your property’s individual needs.

Browse our range online for instant online ordering, or call us today on 029 2086 8333.