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
FIRE STATISTICS MONITOR - Q1 2003
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
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.
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.
FIRES IN THE HOME: FINDINGS FROM THE 2002/3 BRITISH CRIME SURVEY
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.
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 www.statistics.gov.uk
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.