London Fire Brigade

Fire chiefs welcome inclusion of smoke alarm question in housing survey

16 April 2014

The London Fire Brigade has welcomed changes to the English Housing Survey Questionnaire which will now include a question asking residents when their smoke alarms were last tested.

The announcement comes in a week which has seen smoke alarms help save the lives of  four people  in two serious fires in London. Brigade research shows that 80 per cent of Londoners have a smoke alarm but in over half the home fires attended by the Brigade there is  no working smoke alarm.

On Sunday night (13 April) a smoke alarm woke a family up to a fire in their kitchen and Brigade control officers gave them vital fire survival guidance over the phone until firefighters arrived. Then during the early hours of Wednesday morning a neighbour rescued a woman from a flat fire after hearing her smoke alarm sounding. The man broke down the door of the neighbouring flat where a fire had broken out and managed to pull the woman living there to safety before the Brigade arrived.

London Fire Brigade Group Manager Mark Hazelton said:

“Smoke alarms give vital early warning if there is a fire and if the resident can’t call the Brigade it may alert a neighbour to dial 999. People know that they should test their smoke alarms regularly but we’ve never had reliable information to say whether people actually do this.

“This change to the housing survey will give us a greater understanding of people’s behaviour  and help us in our on going work to reduce the risk of death and serious injuries from fire.”

The English Housing Survey is a national survey of people's housing circumstances and the condition and energy efficiency of housing in England. Results from the survey are used by government departments, local authorities, housing associations, landlords, academics, construction industry professionals, consultants and the general public.

A key part of London Fire Brigade’s fire prevention work is to promote the life saving importance of smoke alarms and to encourage Londoners to fit them. On the back of this week’s two incidents the  Brigade has reissued it’s ‘Love your smoke alarm’ social media campaign using Twitter and Facebook to ask the public to show their smoke alarms some love and give the big red button a push.

Notes to editors:

The English Housing Survey focuses on trends in tenures; demographic and economic characteristics of households; rents and housing benefit; recent movers; mortgage difficulties; and overcrowding and under-occupation. It also provides an overview of the housing stock in England including: the age, size, and type of homes; the energy efficiency of housing stock and homes affected by damp and mould.