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Findings from the Survey of English Housing (SEH), focusing on the issues of domestic fires and fire safety measure...
Findings from the Survey of English Housing (SEH), focusing on the issues of domestic fires and fire safety measures were published today by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The SEH provides a fuller measure of the number of domestic fires in England. This is because many of the fires reported in the SEH result in little or no damage and consequently are often not brought to the attention of the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), thus escaping official recording. The SEH also collects a wide range of social and demographic information, which enables those groups within the population who are most at risk to be identified.

Fires in the home

The 2004/05 SEH shows that 1.5% of households in England (some

300,000) experienced a domestic fire in the previous 12 months. The majority of these fires were not serious; with nearly 80% extinguished by someone in the household and over 90% resulting in no injuries. The 2004/05 SEH estimates that the FRS were called to 22% of the domestic fires reported in the survey.

Fire safety and smoke alarm ownership

The 2004/05 SEH found that while 80% of households in England own a working smoke alarm, 10% of households do not have any fire safety protection in their home. The majority of households who do own a working smoke alarm power them with one year batteries (75%) and have one installed in the hallway or landing (92%).

Households at Risk

The 2004/05 SEH highlights specific households that are particularly vulnerable ie associated with both an increased risk of experiencing a domestic fire and a lesser likelihood of owning a working smoke alarm. Characteristics of these households are:

* Frequent use of candles

* Frequent use of room heaters

* Dissatisfaction with accommodation

Also highlighted are other types of households in need of special attention by the FRS and fire safety practitioners. Characteristics of these households are:

* Households containing a smoker

* Lowest income households

* Young household reference person (HRP), i.e. aged 16 - 24 years old

* Dissatisfaction with their local area


1. Figures presented in the 'Fires in the Home' report are collated from data collected through the 2004/05 SEH. The SEH is a large continuous survey designed primarily to collect information on households and their housing. In 2004/05, it also included a set of questions designed to obtain information about fire related issues in the home. This report presents the findings from these questions.

2. Previously, the Home Office's British Crime Survey (BCS) asked similar questions on fires in the home. The last report drawn from BCS data was published by ODPM in February 2004 for 2002/03 data.

Neither survey contained fire questions for 2003/04.

3. These statistics are part of the National Statistics series which are produced to high professional standards, as set out in the National Statistics of Practice. For more information see:

4. Copies of 'Fires in the Home: Findings from the 2004/05 Survey of English Housing' and other fire statistical publications can be downloaded via the ODPM website.

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