London Fire Brigade

Over 50s most vulnerable to avoidable fire deaths Brigade warns

28 September 2015

New figures released today show that over 90 per cent of people who died in accidental house fires were over 50 years of age.

The statistics have been released to mark the start of Chief Fire Officers Associations (CFOA) home safety week which is aimed at reducing fires involving older people.

Firefighters across London are holding events with older people’s associations to highlight the risks and educating people about how they can stay safe from fire.
Of the 23 people who died in accidental fires last year only two were under 50 years of age. The figures also show that:

  • Smoking caused half of all fire fatalities but just 12 per cent of all house fires
  • Cooking caused 11 per cent of all fire fatalities and 63 per cent of all house fires
  • Matches and candles caused a third of all fire fatalities and as little as 8 per cent of all house fires

London Fire Brigade Community Safety Group Manager Mark Hazelton said:

"It is a highly distressing way for older people's lives to be ended by fire and we’re working hard to identify those most at risk and give them a lifesaving home fire safety visit.

"In a high number of cases, these frail people were regularly receiving care services and support in their home. The Brigade is committed to working with the agencies that provide this care so that they can better recognise the risk to which these people are exposed and design solutions to respond to their particular circumstances."

We're calling for closer working between the care and fire profession

Fire chiefs are asking care staff to get in touch with their local fire and rescue service if they notice any of the vital early warning signs, in order to prevent a fire from happening.

Care workers are often the first to see the tell tale signs like burn marks from cigarettes on clothes or carpets, or a smoke alarm that has run out of battery power.

Home fire safety visit

We're also promoting our free home fire safety visits, including fitting smoke alarms and in some instances, flame retardant bedding for vulnerable people who smoke, for people receiving care in their own homes.

In 2014/2015, we visited 87,000 homes in London to undertake home fire safety visits. Past research shows that vulnerable people are 18 times less likely to have a fire if they receive a visit from firefighters in their home.

We want care staff to get in touch if they believe the people they are looking after are at risk from fire and would benefit from a home fire safety visit.

Book a home fire safety visit