The fire and rescue authorities have recently released the statistics for 2013-14. The total number of fires attended was 212,500. Many of these were outdoor fires comprising such things as grassland, heathland, refuse and vehicles.
They attended 39,600 dwelling fires and these fires contributed 258 deaths and almost 10,000 injuries.
40% of fire related deaths were caused by smoke or toxic fumes, with a further 20% of deaths being caused by a combination of flames and smoke / toxic fumes.
Although the majority of fires started in the kitchen, 43% of fire deaths were from fires that started in the lounge / living room / dining room.
Although the number of house fires was highest between the hours of 8pm – 9pm, fatalities were spread fairly evenly throughout the 24 hour period and although only 11% of fires occurred between midnight and 5am, these fires claimed more than 20% of fire related deaths. It is assumed that this is because people are less alert and able to react to fires that started whilst they were sleeping. Odourless but highly toxic fumes can kill you before you smell the smoke, a working fire alarm could have saved some of those lives.
Bearing in mind that a basic smoke alarm can be purchased for around £10 there was no smoke alarm fitted in 12,000 of the properties that suffered a house fire and there was a non-operating smoke alarm in a further 8,000. Unbelievable statistics, half of the homes that suffered a fire serious enough to call the fire brigade did not have a working smoke alarm. Incidentally, if you have any gas powered heaters in your home then a combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm will provide protection from fire and also protect you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning, a deadly, tasteless, odourless gas which can escape from faulty gas boilers, gas water heaters etc.
The saddest statistic of all in this lengthy report is that the 80 years and older age group suffered 21% of the total deaths and the rate was also high for the 65 to 79 age group.