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EMERGENCY CALL OUTS REACH NEW HEIGHTS FOR SCOT'S FIRE BRIGADES

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Scotland's fire brigades responded to more emergency calls than ever before in 1995-96 according to the annual repo...
Scotland's fire brigades responded to more emergency calls than ever before in 1995-96 according to the annual report by Mr Neil Morrison, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services for Scotland, published today.

The number of fire fatalities during the year was 92, a slight increase on last year's record low of 87.

The report revealed that in 1995-96 Scottish fire brigades:

-- responded to 130,863 emergency calls, an increase of 15.7% on 1994-95 and the highest number ever recorded

-- attended 20,610 fires, an increase of 6.4% over the previous year

-- attended 40,217 secondary fires, an increase of 23.2% on 1994-95

-- attended 6,206 chimney fires, an increase of 1.3% in the previous year

The number of fire fatalities during 1995-96 was 92, a slight increase of five on last year. Of these fatalities 80 occurred in 77 house fires and while around 72% of the dwellings had been fitted with a smoke alarm, less than one-third were considered to have been in working order at the time of the fire.

The main causes of fatal domestic fires were the carelessness in the use of smokers' materials (53.2%), overheating of pan left unattended on the cooker (12.9%), clothing ignited in contact with a heating appliance (9.1%), faulty or misused heaters (7.8%) and faulty electric blankets (5.2%), according to the annual report.

The increase in responses to emergency calls and secondary fires can largely be accounted for by the extreme weather conditions which saw severe flooding in the winter and grassland fires during the summer.

Mr Morrison said:

'Although the number of fire fatalities increased to 92, as against the record low of 87 recorded in 1994-95, it is encouraging to note the quite considerable decrease in the general trend over the past ten years from 171 fire fatalities in 1985.

'There is no doubt in my mind that the lower number of fire fatalities is due mainly to the concentrated programme, conducted by all firemasters, to encourage the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms.

'However, a further contributory factor is a more pro-active community education programme developing in most brigades. A greater public awareness of the dangers of fire is pursued through visits to schools and other community based groups by teams of fire officers and educationalists.

'Although the technology enabling the tracing of telephone calls serves to reduce the level of malicious fire calls to some degree, a measure of the community education units' contribution to this success can be seen through statistics recorded over the most recent five year period where the number of 18,481 such calls recorded for 1994 has fallen by 52.1% to the 9,637 registered for the period covered by this report.

'It is my belief that these teams should be fully developed in all brigades jointly with educational authorities in order that the benefits to be gained from reduced levels of malicious fire calls in terms of making best use of existing resources can be maximised.'

The report also reveals that in 1995-96 Scottish fire brigades attended:

-- 26,092 good intent false alarm calls, an increase of 1.9% on 1994-95

-- 15,603 faulty apparatus false alarm calls, an increase of 62.1% on the previous year

-- a total of 9,637 malicious false alarm calls, a decrease of 16.4% on the last year

-- 12,498 special service calls, an increase of 52.6% on 1994-95

In 1995-96 the annual wholetime strength of Scottish fire brigades was 4,481. As in previous years, no problems were experienced by brigades in attracting suitable personnel to fill vacancies that arose during the year.

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