London Fire Brigade

Fires at their lowest level since records began

24 January 2014

The number of fires in London has fallen by a quarter in the last year and by 64 per cent over the last 10 years, which means they are at the lowest level since records began, according to new figures from London Fire Brigade.

The figures show that last year, the number of fires in London fell to 20,328, or around 56 each day. In 2003/4 there were 57,250, around 157 fires every day.

Six London boroughs have seen a decrease of over 70 per cent in the last 10 years. They are:

Barking and Dagenham – 79%, 631 fires in 2012/13 compared to 2,953 in 2003/4.
Greenwich – 78%, 712 fires in 2012/13 compared to 3,254 in 2003/4.
Havering – 76%, 504 fires in 2012/13 compared to 2,096 in 2003/4.
Bexley – 73%, 528 in 2012/13 compared to 1,972 in 2003/4.
Hounslow – 71%, 614 in 2012/13 compared to 2,113 in 2003/4.
Newham – 71%, 855 in 2012/13 compared to 2,982 in 2003/4.

The Brigade said that the fall is down to its approach of targeting those most at risk from fire. A report last year estimated that 5,000 fires had been prevented by firefighters carrying out home fire safety visits, with vulnerable people being 18 times less likely to have a fire if they receive a visit.

They have also found that social media is the best tool to target London’s young educated professionals who are responsible for a quarter of all house fires. Figures show that young professionals are having two fewer fires a week since the Brigade started using social media.

Similarly, the figures show that the overall number of incidents firefighters attend has dropped by 42 per cent in the last 10 years. This includes call outs to things like road traffic collisions, false alarms, and non-emergency calls such as to people stuck in lifts. The figures show that:

• The total number of incidents attended by the Brigade in 2012/13 was 105,220, around 288 a day.
• This is compared to 182,510, or around 500 a day, in 2003/4.
• House fires are down by 26 per cent in the last 10 years, with 8,793 in 2003/4 compared to 6,483 in 2012/13.
Ron Dobson, Commissioner of London Fire Brigade, said:

“Despite the capital’s growing population, Londoners are less likely than ever before to have a fire and people are much safer as a result.

“This dramatic drop is down to our fantastic targeted prevention work aimed at those most at risk whether that be visiting vulnerable people in their homes or finding engaging ways to spread our messages through social media.”

ENDS

Notes to editor

During a home fire safety visit, which is a free service, firefighters offer potentially life saving information on how to prevent fires, and fit free smoke alarms where needed. The majority of fires in the home are caused by cooking, cigarettes and candles, so safety advice focuses on those issues, as well information on how to escape should a fire break out.

Fire chiefs have identified that around 700,000 homes in London are more at risk from having a fire and specifically target their visits at them. It released a ‘fire risk profile’ and said that those identified are usually affected by several of these ‘risk factors’ below:
• Disability, especially impaired mobility
• Intoxication by drugs and / or alcohol
• Smoking
• Old age
• Living alone 

The London Fire Brigade has the largest social media presence of any UK local or regional public sector authority in the country and has delivered significant and demonstrable results in cutting fires. It already had great success with its twitter feed, @LondonFire, and the Facebook page is the most successful emergency service page in the country.
Analysis by the Brigade reveals a checklist of lifestyle traits shared by the young professionals
• be aged 18-35
• be degree educated
• live in smart rented flats
• earn more than £40,000 a year
• enjoy keeping fit
• drink alcohol more than three times a week

In 2009 fires involving young professionals was 1,610. In 2012 this was reduced to 1,515.