London Fire Brigade

Firefighters urge you to plan your great escape

17 May 2010

Planning an escape route could be the difference between life and death if there’s a fire in your home, according to London Fire Brigade.

Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Fire Safety, said: “Firefighters attend around 110 accidental home fires in London each week, some of which are serious and sadly sometimes even fatal. Fire can strike when you least expect it. That’s why we’re asking you to think carefully about how you’d escape from a fire in your home.

By planning and practising an escape route you will vastly increase your chance of surviving a fire”.

London’s firefighters advise that everyone who lives in your home, including children, older people and lodgers, knows how to escape in a fire. If a fire starts in your home the priority is always to get everyone out and call 999.

Andy Hickmott added: “It’s really important that children are aware of what to do in a fire, if they see a fire they should never hide, but should raise the alarm and get out. You can use our tips and advice to practice with children and even make planning your escape route fun”.

London Fire Brigade offers the following advice on making your fire escape plan:
• Make sure everyone knows where the keys to doors and windows are kept, so if there’s a fire they can get out
• Choose an escape route now rather than waiting until there is a fire. The best route is usually the normal way in and out of your home.
• Choose a second escape route, in case your usual route out is blocked. Remember – if you live on the ground floor, a window could be used as an escape route.
• Escape routes and exits should be kept clear and free from clutter. 
• Plan the order that you will escape in, so that if you have to go out of a window you can help others down (ground and first floor only).
• What would you do if you can’t escape as your route is blocked?  If you can’t escape you will need to find a room where you can wait for the fire brigade. The room will ideally have a window and a telephone so you can call for help.
• Make sure everyone in your home knows the plan and put a reminder of what to do on the fridge door or notice board. 

The Brigade has launched the final episode of its ‘firefighter’s diary’ series of YouTube video clips. In the final clip (which can be viewed here) firefighter Ben Yong, from Kensington Fire Station, highlights the importance of planning an escape route in the home. He visits a person’s home and explains how and why to plan an escape route. Ben says: “In a smoke filled room you will quickly become disorientated and you will get lost in your own home if you don’t have an escape route planned in advance”.

Notes to editors

To interview a Brigade spokesperson about the importance of fire escape plans for the home, call the press office on 020 8536 5922.
For more information on escape, go to

Key London statistics

Last year (2009), 47 people died in accidental fires in the home. In nearly 60% of these fires (58%) no smoke alarm was fitted.

In the past three years:
There were 20,633 fires in the homes of Londoners
• 133 people died in fires in the home
• 2,750 people were injured in fires in the home