London Fire Brigade

Young professionals most at risk from kitchen fires

06 September 2010

New figures released today by London Fire Brigade show that London’s young professionals are setting fire to their kitchens in record numbers.

Kitchen fires account for over 60 per cent of fires in people’s homes. In the last five years there were over 17,500 fires in London kitchens, causing over 2600 injuries and 24 deaths.

Nearly one in three of these fires is started by a young professional, a fact that surprises Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety, who said: “People often think that serious fires only happen to vulnerable people but that isn’t always the case.

“I think, with young professionals more than others, there’s an attitude that it won’t happen to me. But our latest figures speak for themselves – it can happen and it has to thousands of Londoners”.

Kitchen fires are often caused by cooking that has been left unattended. Ovens or hobs being accidentally left on are also a concern, as are chip pans and items being left too close to cookers. A large number of serious kitchen fires also begin when people have been drinking.

Sergio Cees, who lives in Kensington, knows only too well how easy it is for a kitchen fire to break out. In June this year he had a kitchen fire caused by a pan of oil being left on the hob. Mr Cees’ kitchen was badly damaged and he sustained burns to his feet. He said: “I’m such a careful person so it was a real shock to see the flames. Since the fire I’ve been quite scared about cooking. I’d say to other people: make sure you take your pans off the hob when you’ve finished cooking so there’s no chance of them catching fire”.

In a bid to reduce the number of fires in kitchens, London Fire Brigade is launching its first ever kitchen fire safety campaign this week, COOKSAFE. A series of events will be taking place across London, aimed at highlighting the fire risks associated with kitchens and the Brigade has produced ‘Recipes for Disaster,’ a booklet which highlights just how easily kitchen fires can start. The main COOKSAFE event takes place at the Jubilee Market, which is in Borough Market from 11.30 am on Friday 10th September. Firefighters, along with a top chef, will show shoppers how to sizzle safely.

Ends

Notes to editors

The Brigade’s top kitchen safety tips:

  • Never leave cooking unattended, even for a moment
  • Always make sure the cooker is switched off once you’ve finished using it
  • Keep your oven, hob and grill clean and free from grease – a build up can be a fire hazard
  • Don’t store things like cookbooks or teatowels close to the hob as they can easily catch fire
  • Avoid cooking if you’ve been drinking alcohol
  • Never fill a pan more than a third full with oil
  • Dry chips before putting them in oil
  • Never throw water onto hot oil or fat
  • If a fire does break out you should turn the heat off if it’s safe to do so but don’t try to tackle the fire by yourself. Get everyone out of the house and call 999 immediately

Case studies
For case studies of people who have suffered from kitchen fires, please call Emma Cullen on 020 8536 5922.

Recipes for disaster
As part of the campaign, firefighters have produced a set of ‘Recipes for Disaster,’ which spell out what will happen if you aren’t careful in the kitchen. The recipe for ‘Blazing Beans’ demonstrates how easy it is to have a serious fire if you leave your cooking on the hob and forget about it. The recipe for ‘Boozy Flambe’ shows how disastrous a combination drinking alcohol and cooking can be. You can view further Recipes for Disaster here: www.london-fire.gov.uk/cooksafe 

Kitchen fires
For a breakdown of kitchen fires by borough, please contact London Fire Brigade press office on 020 8536 5922 or email emma.cullen@london-fire.gov.uk

• Fires in the home are far more likely to start in the kitchen than in any other room – around 60 per cent of all home fires start in the kitchen, compared with 7 per cent in the living room and 6 per cent in the bedroom.

• Around 70 per cent of kitchen fires are cooking related.

• There were 17510 kitchen fires in the last five years.

• 24 people in London have died in kitchen fires in the last five years.

• 2644 people have been injured in kitchen fires in the last five years.

For more information go to www.london-fire.gov.uk/cooksafe

You can also follow the COOKSAFE campaign on the Brigade’s facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LondonFireBrigade or search ‘London Fire Brigade’ on facebook.