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16/12/14 09:30

Fire deaths at record low

The number of deaths from fires in Scotland at lowest recorded level.

The number of deaths from fires in Scotland has fallen to the lowest level recorded by the Scottish Government.

Statistics released today show there were 33 deaths from fires in Scotland last year, a drop of 28 per cent on the revised figure of 46 in 2012-13.

The number of fires in homes also dropped to its lowest level, falling 9 per cent from last year’s figure of 5,834 to 5,330.

Overall fires increased this year, however they remain at their second lowest level recorded. A fifth of all secondary fires, which don’t involve casualties or property loss, took place in April 2013 alone, and unseasonably dry weather at the start of the year is likely to have contributed to the rise.

Alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in a quarter of all accidental fires in homes which led to fatal casualties. Statistics show that there were likely to be three times as many casualties in an accidental home fire if drugs and/or alcohol were involved. Smokers’ materials and matches remain the main source of ignition for fires involving fatalities.

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Paul Wheelhouse said: “It is encouraging that fire deaths are now at their lowest since current records began, as are fires in homes, taking them to the lowest in a generation.

“The significant reduction in the number of people hurt or killed in fires is to be welcomed, every death is a tragedy and there are 33 families across Scotland who are without a loved one as a result of fires last year.

“It’s crucial that we remember the relatively small numbers of cases mean there can be quite extreme fluctuations, although there is no doubt that these figures are testament to the hard work of the fire and rescue services in Scotland and their continued focus on prevention. It is crucial that people across Scotland listen and follow their valuable advice.

“The prevalence of outdoor fires is a concern, however there is work ongoing to tackle this problem wherever possible, and the Scottish Government last year published its wild fire guidance to help tackle the problem.

“We must also continue with vital education work to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking and of alcohol and drugs, particularly while cooking, which the statistics show still contribute to far too many casualties.

“I also would encourage everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms and check them regularly to ensure they are working properly – they can be lifesavers.”

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“I know from first-hand experience how hardworking and dedicated our staff throughout the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are. The fact that the number of house fires across Scotland has continued to fall since last year is also a reflection of the public’s commitment to join Scotland’s fight against fire and take part in protecting their communities. Last year local firefighters continued to conduct free Home Fire Safety Visits around the country, completing 71,357 visits. The SFRS has a clear message – working smoke alarms saves lives – these figures show that message is getting heard and people are safer from fire in their homes. I very much expect that we will continue to build on these benchmark standards in the coming years.

“We have engaged with other emergency services, our communities, our staff and key partners to ensure that we’re preventing fires and other emergencies and to deliver a safer Scotland. There has been a reduction again in the number of fatal casualties as a result of fires in the home from 46 in 2012-13 to 33 and that is thanks to the hard work of our colleagues and partners from all four corners of Scotland.”

Pat Watters, Chair of the Board, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“I am very pleased to see that the number of house fires across Scotland has continued to fall this year and would like to personally thank our diligent staff, partners and the public for their help in achieving this. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board has continued to work with the Senior Leadership Team, management and staff to ensure that the decline in the number of preventable house fires was maintained this year – we are satisfied to see that this hard work has paid off for the communities of Scotland.

“The Service continues to appeal to the public to join Scotland’s fight against fire, ensure that they have working smoke alarms in their home and would encourage them to arrange a free Home Fire Safety Visit for themselves or someone they know – visit www.firescotland.gov.uk to find out more.”

Notes to editors

The full statistical publication is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/01128

The publication was renamed Fire and Rescue Statistics Scotland in 2014, following feedback from a fire statistics user consultation. Up until the 2012-13 edition, the publication was called Fire Statistics Scotland.