London Fire Brigade

New fire report shows majority of fire deaths occur after a delay in calling 999

23 June 2014

A new ‘Fire Facts’ report published today by the London Fire Brigade shows that the majority of fire deaths in the capital happen when there is a delay in people dialling 999.
 
Last year 70 per cent of people who died in fires in London occurred where a 999 call for help had not been made until 10 minutes or more after the fire had started. The report also shows that nearly half of those seriously injured by fire had not contacted the Brigade soon enough.
 
The figures published today are available as part of a new series of Brigade reports called Fire Facts – giving the public more  access to key London Fire Brigade facts and figures. Alongside the report the Brigade has produced an infographic for everyone to easily digest the findings, and to see clearly how the Brigade is actually responding to fires.
 
To ensure people discover a fire as quickly as possible and dial 999, the Brigade is calling on everyone to check they have a working smoke alarm on at least each level of their home and to get into the habit of testing them regularly. Smoke alarms give vital early warning if there is a fire and if people can’t call the Brigade it may alert a neighbour to dial 999.
 
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
 
“During our public consultation in 2013 people were interested in seeing more facts and figures. The Fire Facts reports aim to help Londoners  understand how we are actually responding to fires and unearth telling statistics on human behaviour and fire trends.
 
“This first report shows that whilst Londoners are safer than ever from the dangerous effects of fire people are still dying in fires without any fire detection in their homes. We should all have a working smoke alarm on every level of our homes. “
 
The first report in the Fire Facts series sets out key information on the Brigade’s response times to 999 calls. In addition to highlighting the  relationship between a delay in 999 calls being made and fire deaths the data from 2013 showed that:
 
• Control officers took 1 and a half seconds to deal with a 999 call, three times faster than in 2007.
• Firefighters have shaved nearly a minute off the time it takes to get out of the station after the bells have sounded in the last five years.
 
The figures – which are for calendar years up to 2013 – in the report were collated before the closure of 10 fire stations and the removal of 14 fire engines. Despite these changes the Brigade says it will  continue to maintain existing response time targets of getting the first fire engine to an incident in six minutes, on average across London, and the second, if needed, in eight minutes on average.
 
The new data published in the report includes:
• Total time to respond to a call from answering the 999 call to arrival at the incident address
• The duration of incidents  - new data on how long different types of incident take to resolve
• Arrival times for fire engines at ward level, published as part of the incident mapping tool
• Time taken before the Brigade gets called.
 
Notes to editors
 
A dedicated fire facts web page with all the information is available here  www.london-fire.gov.uk/responsetimes.asp
 
Future data to be published as part of the LFB Fire Facts series includes:
•         Fact and figures about LFB work – a series of publications will give details of the emergency incidents LFB attend and some other key information about the services we provide including data about our regulatory fire safety and community safety work. Some information is already available (and will be updated) in two documents Incident profiles and Historical data 1970 to 2011 published as part of the consultation on the Fifth London Safety Plan.
•         Fires and fire casualties – these publications will give details about fires and the people who die or are harmed in fires.
•         Stations and resources – these publications giving details of station workloads and fire engine utilisation. Some existing information is available in the document Station workloads and capacity published as part of the consultation on the Fifth London Safety Plan.
 
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. Previous research shows that 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.
 
In addition to the Fire Facts series, data about the Brigade’s incidents attended and resources sent to those incidents is published on the London Datastore and updated on a monthly basis. Borough data (updated annually) is provided on the Brigade’s website here with the incident mapping tool showing data for key incidents and fire engine response times down to ward level here.