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Last updated: 09/07/2018, 6:17 PM

Brigade visits prevent five thousand fires in London

22/08/2013 00:00
Safety warnings

New research released today by the London Fire Brigade shows that vulnerable people are 18 times less likely to have a fire if they receive a home fire safety visit from firefighters.

The study, the first of its kind in London, looked at the 400,000 visits attended over the last six years and estimated that their impact had prevented around 5,000 fires from starting in people’s homes.

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. 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.

Fire chiefs have identified that around 700,000 homes in London are more at risk from having a fire and specifically target their visits at them. It released a ‘fire risk profile’ and said that those identified are usually affected by several of these ‘risk factors’ below:

• Disability, especially impaired mobility
• Visual and / or hearing impairments
• Mental health problems
• Intoxication by drugs and / or alcohol
• Smoking
• Old age
• Living alone

The rate of accidental house fires reduced in this group of vulnerable people from 36 per 10,000 people who had not received a visit to only 2 per 10,000 people who had. The report supports the Brigade’s targeted approach of using lifestyle profiling, alongside local knowledge and fire data to reach vulnerable people.

Chair of London Fire Authority’s Strategy Committee, Councillor Sarah Hayward said:

“This new research is evidence that the Brigade’s home fire safety visits is preventing thousands of fires and saving lives, particularly amongst some of the capital’s most vulnerable people.

“Joining forces with local councils and other partners has enabled the Brigade to reach those most at risk. Home fires are devastating so it’s vital that this important work continues.

“Londoners need to look out for friends and neighbours by following some simple fire safety advice. If you know someone who you think could be at risk of having a fire at home, please speak to them about arranging a free home fire safety visit – you may well save their life.”

The London Fire Brigade recently increased its target for he number of  visits to 219,000 homes by March 2016, with 80 per cent of those visits being to the homes of vulnerable people. Prevention work across the Brigade has seen the number of fires it attends reduced by half in the last ten years.

You can read the report here in a new window)

Identifying at risk groups

The Brigade uses Experian’s Public Sector Mosaic segmentation data to identify the types of lifestyle that have the most fires. This data provides a detailed and accurate understanding of each citizen's location, their demographics, lifestyles and behaviours. This profiling is further informed by reviewing the circumstances of every fire fatality, regular analysis of the profile of all fires across London, targeted research, and local intelligence from Borough Commanders, who work with local authorities to identify people who may need our help to be safer from fire.

About the Brigade’s work to prevent fires in ‘at risk’ homes

Each of the Brigade’s borough commanders sit on their local Community Safety Partnership Board and Adult Safeguarding Board, allowing closer engagement with local partnership schemes, including the sharing of information and data.

Last September the Brigade helped write national guidance for care workers advising them how to spot tell tale signs which might  indicate  that someone was at high risk of having a fire. This information asked care staff to get in touch with their local fire and rescue service if they noticed any of the vital early warning signs, in order to prevent a fire from happening. Care workers are often the first to see signs like burn marks on carpets from cigarettes or a smoke alarm that needs a new battery.

Brigade visits prevent five thousand fires in London