London Fire Brigade

Cigarettes increase risk of homes going up in smoke

05 March 2010

London’s firefighters are reminding people to take extra care with cigarettes, ahead of National No Smoking Day on Wednesday 10th March. 

Figures from London Fire Brigade show that smoking materials (cigarettes, matches, cigars) are the greatest caused of fatal fires in homes across London. Around 40 per cent of fire deaths in the home are caused by smoking materials. Households with a smoker are also almost one and a half times more likely to suffer a fire than non-smoking households.

Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety said: “The health risks associated with smoking are well known but most people don’t realise that smoking also vastly increases the risk of having a fire in your home.

“It’s absolutely vital you ensure your cigarette is completely out when you’ve finished smoking it. If you don’t, you risk causing a fire which could destroy not only your home, but also your life”.

“If you aren’t ready to give up smoking, make sure you’ve got a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. You’re more than twice as likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm. And financially you’ve got no excuse - a basic smoke alarm costs the same price as a packet of cigarettes”.

London Fire Brigade has issued the following advice for smokers:

• Put it out, right out - always make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.
• Take extra care when you’re tired or have been drinking alcohol. It’s very easy to fall asleep without realising that your cigarette is still burning.
• Never smoke in bed - if you need to lie down, don’t light up. You could doze off and set your bed on fire.
• Never leave lit cigarettes cigars or pipes unattended - they can easily overbalance as they burn down, land on a carpet or newspaper and start a fire.
• Where possible buy child-resistant lighters and matchboxes - every year children die by starting fires with matches and lighters.
• Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn.
• Tap your ash into an ashtray – never a wastebasket – and don’t let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
• Fit and maintain a smoke alarm on each level of your home - when a fire starts, you only have a few minutes to escape. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and dial 999.

Notes to editors

For more information and advice on giving up smoking and No Smoking Day visit: http://www.nosmokingday.org.uk/

For further fire safety advice, go to http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/

As part of a campaign to highlight the dangers of smoking and drinking the Brigade has also launched a YouTube video – Diary of a Firefighter. In his video diary, firefighter Ben Yong, from Kensington fire station, talks about the fire dangers associated with smoking and drinking. You can view Ben’s diary by clicking here.