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08/10/13 09:47

Fires at record low

Statistics show 41 per cent drop in home fires.

The number of house fires in Scotland has fallen to the lowest levels recorded by the Scottish Government.

Statistics released today show that house fires have reduced from 9,811 to 5,820, a drop of 41 per cent since records began in 1990.

Provisional statistics released today also show that 46 people died in fires in 2012-13, a drop of 23 per cent compared to 2011-12.

For the first time, the publication Fire Statistics Scotland 2012-13, also includes information on the main sources of ignition for all accidental house fires.

Cooking appliances such as ovens accounted for the majority of non-fatal accidental house fires while smokers’ materials and matches were the main source of ignition for fatal fires.

Drink or drugs were suspected to be a factor in 16 per cent of accidental house fires, which is a slight decrease from the 17 per cent reported last year.

Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “Fires in Scotland are continuing to fall, with house fires dropping by 41 per cent since Scottish Government records began and the lowest in a generation.

“While we know that statistics based on small numbers can fluctuate over time the positive downward trend is undoubtedly testament to the hard work of the fire and rescue services in Scotland and their continued focus on prevention.

“While 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 46 families across Scotland who are without a loved one as a result of fires last year.

“It is crucial that we continue with vital education work to raise awareness of the dangers 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.

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said:

“As the first Chief Officer of the national Scottish Fire and Rescue Service I inherited eight highly performing services with fantastically committed staff. The antecedent services made incredible strides in relation to prevention work, engaging with communities, local authorities and partner agencies to drive down the risk of fires and other emergencies, nearly halving the number of fire deaths occurring in Scotland in the last decade. That is a fantastic testament to the work of our staff and the direction of effort and resources from the fire and rescue service being delivered in local communities across the country.

“Through targeted prevention activities and working with others we have seen a shift from simply dealing with the consequences of tragedies such as those injured and killed in fires to working to prevent these incidents occurring in the first place. As a national Service we will continue with our prevention and education activities to achieve safer communities by raising awareness of the risks and supporting people to reduce their likelihood of being involved in a fire in the home or other emergency.”

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

“To see that house fires have dropped to the lowest levels since records began is very positive news both for the people of Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The Service is dedicated to maintaining that downward trend and the Board is working closely with senior management and personnel to ensure they are supported to achieve continuing success. Every fire fatality is a tragedy and we know that we have the ability through targeted prevention activities to reduce these incidents occurring.

“That success is not something that can be achieved in isolation however and that is why we are working closely with partners to identify those particularly at risk of a fire. We know that drink and drugs often play a part in these incidents and that is a wider societal issue that cannot be tackled by the Service alone. One of the things we can assist everyone with is a free home fire safety visit. It is a simple way to make you and your loved ones safer from fire and I would urge everyone to make sure they take advantage of this excellent service and the fitting of free smoke detectors as required.”

Notes to editors

The full statistical publication can be accessed at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/01064