London Fire Brigade

Fatal fire stats spark home smoke alarm warning

22 February 2016

New figures show that in two thirds of fatal fires over the past three years smoke alarms have not alerted people to the fire because they haven't been installed or were fitted too far away from where the fire started.

We are warning that one smoke alarm in the home is not enough and people should think about getting more detection in their homes.

Fire deaths down since 1980s high

Fire deaths have come down dramatically since 1980 when 196 people died from fire in the capital.

Over the last three years the number of people who have sadly died has been under 50 a year but we believe greater home detection can further reduce the numbers.

We recommend that, as a minimum, you should have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home but that people should install more alarms in areas of risk especially if they are smokers, have mobility issues or live alone.

They also say alarms should also be linked to wi-fi, for example, so they give early warning in case of a fire in your home.

Smoke not reaching alarms until too late

Over a third of home fatal fires happen in the living room, 30 per cent are in the bedroom and in a many cases the smoke doesn't reach the alarms and fire chiefs say by then it could be too late.

Director of Operations Dave Brown said: "Smoke alarm ownership has greatly increased thanks to the hard work of firefighters getting important fire safety messages out and the public acting on it but simply having one smoke alarm is not enough.

"Often our fire investigators find that a person died because the smoke never reached the alarm in the hallway and didn’t give the resident early enough warning.

'No excuse'

"There can be no excuse not to install smoke alarms in key areas of your home apart from the kitchen so that you help protect you and loved ones from fire and have a greater chance of survival.

"We target our vital prevention work on vulnerable people who are most at risk and we offer home fire safety visits to them where are firefighters can install smoke alarms for free where needed.

"A Brigade report showed that vulnerable people were 18 times less likely to have a fire if they receive a home fire safety visit.

"Over the last 15 years the Brigade has seen the numbers of fires and emergency incidents in London reducing.

"This is largely due to firefighters prevention work since our campaign for community fire safety started in 2000 and last year we carried out 87,000 home visits.

"However, we cannot become complacent and in our 150th year we must strive to reduce fire and the impact of fire as much as possible."

Free alarms for private rental properties

Through DCLG funding, we are offering free smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are being distributed across the country to landlords, for their rental properties.