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The ODPM today issued two statistical publications relating to fire. ...
The ODPM today issued two statistical publications relating to fire.

Fire Statistics Monitor - Q1 2003 presents the latest figures for fires and associated casualties attended by the Fire and Rescue Service in the United Kingdom. Fires in the home: findings from the 2002/3 British Crime Survey presents

analysis on domestic fires in England and Wales reported by

householders, including those to which fire brigades were not called

to attend.


Latest national fire statistics covering the period up to 31 March

2003 were issued today by the ODPM.


First estimates show that the UK fire and rescue service attended

over one million fires and false fire alarms in the year ending 31

March 2003 - a marginal decrease on the previous 12-month period.

The total number of fires attended decreased by 1% to 545,500.

Within this total, the number of 'primary' fires (fires involving

property, vehicles and/or casualties) fell by 4% to 219,100 whilst

there was a 2% rise to 313,800 in the number of 'secondary' fires

(mainly outdoor fires such as refuse and grassland). There were

64,400 fires in the home, a fall of 6% compared with the previous

12-month period.

Deaths and Injuries

There was a 5% decrease in the number of fire deaths from 602 to an

estimated 574 in the 12 months to March 2003. This compares with 606

recorded in 2001, 613 in 2000 and 623 in 1999. Within this category

there was a substantial fall in the number of deaths from accidental

dwelling fires, down to an estimated 367 from 417 in the previous

12-month period. Injuries resulting from fires fell by 6% to 16,300,

the lowest figure recorded since the revised fire statistics

collection was introduced in 1994.

Industrial Action by Fire Brigades

Fifteen days in 2002/03 were affected by strike action. Data were

collected by the MOD during these periods but, apart from fatalities,

were not of suffic ient quality for use in compiling fire statistics

for the fourth quarter of 2002 and the first quarter of 2003.

Consequently, estimates have been made for these periods.

False alarms

The number of false fire alarms decreased slightly to 479,200. Within

this category the number of false alarms due to apparatus rose by 1%

to 282,700 whilst malicious false alarms fell by 10% to 65,700.

Publication of fire statistics

Fire statistics are published quarterly in the form of a Statistical

Monitor via the ODPM website. The next annual statistical bulletin

('Fire Statistics, UK, 2002') containing trends and analysis for the

years 1992-2002 will be published in spring 2004.


Number of fires

Findings from the 2002/3 British Crime Survey (BCS) also published

today show that 1.5% of households in England and Wales experienced

an outbreak of fire in their property in the previous 12 months, no

change from the equivalent figure in the 2001/2 BCS. The BCS

estimates there were a total of 372,300 domestic fires in this

12-month period and that the Fire and Rescue Service was called to

22% of those fires. The BCS also estimates gross annual losses to

householders caused by domestic fire to be in the region of£360


Risk of fire

The BCS findings suggest that those from more deprived communities

are more likely to experience a fire in the home. Those factors most

closely associated with an increased risk of experiencing a domestic

fire are, 1) living in households which have been the victim of

household crime, 2) living with children, 3) living in property in

poor physical condition and 4) living with a smoker.

Smoke alarms

The BCS also found that almost a quarter of all households did not

contain a working smoke alarm. The reasons most commonly given for

not owning an alarm were that people simply had not got round to

buying one or they did not think they were at risk of suffering a

domestic fire. This finding is particularly concerning as some

households which are least likely to own a working smoke alarm are

also those most likely to suffer a domestic fire.


1. The figures in the quarterly 'Fire Statistics Monitor' publication

are compiled from reports submitted to the ODPM on fires attended by local authority fire brigades.

2. Detailed information is collected on all fires in buildings,

vehicles and outdoor structures and any fires involving casualties or

rescues (ie 'primary' fires). Less detailed aggregated information

is collected on 'secondary' and chimney fires; so subsequent analysis

of them is limited.

3. 'Primary' fires include all fires in buildings, vehicles and

outdoor structures or any fire involving casualties, rescues, or

fires attended by five or more appliances. 'Secondary' fires are the

majority of outdoor fires including grassland and refuse fires unless

they involve casualties or rescues, property loss or five or more

appliances attend. They include fires in single derelict buildings.

Chimney fires are any fires in occupied buildings where the fire was

confined within the chimney structure (and did not involve casualties

or rescues or attendance by five or more appliances).

4. A person whose death is attributed to a fire is counted as a

fatality even if death occurred weeks or months later. However, it

is not always the case that fire was the cause of death. The figures

for fatalities in 2003 are thus subject to revision, as information

supplied by fire brigades needs to be cross-checked against the cause

of death that appears on the death certificate. The main area of

uncertainty is whether fire was the cause of death in road accident


5. The British Crime Survey (BCS) is a large, nationally

representative survey, which is primarily concerned with measuring

the extent and nature of crime against adults living in private

households in England and Wales. However, in addition, the BCS asks

respondents about other issues, one of which is domestic fire. The

BCS has included questions on domestic fires on seven previous

occasions, the most recent one being in 2001/2.

6. BCS data on domestic fires serve as a useful supplement to records

kept by fire brigades. Firstly, the BCS provides a fuller measure of

the number of domestic fires in England and Wales. This is because

many of the fires measured by the BCS result in little or no damage

and consequently are often not brought to the attention of the fire

brigade, thus escaping official recording. Even fires involving

property damage or injury are not always brought to the attention of

the fire brigade. Secondly, the BCS collects a wide range of social

and demographic information, which then enables those groups within

the population who are most likely to experience a domestic fire to

be identified. Furthermore, the BCS also asks respondents about

ownership of smoke alarms, enabling those least likely to own an

alarm to be identified.

7. Fire Statistics and the British Crime Survey are part of the

National Statistics series, which are produced to high professional

standards, as set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice.

For more information on National Statistics see

8. Copies of Fire Statistics Monitor - Q1 2003, Fires in the home:

findings from the 2002/3 BCS and other fire statistical publications

can be downloaded via the ODPM website.

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