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New figures released by London Fire Brigade reveal that there are more than ten fires a week in the capital’s care homes and sheltered accommodation.
Fire chiefs say the shocking statistics serve as a stark reminder as to why sprinklers should be installed in this type of accommodation and demonstrate why reducing the number of fires in care homes and sheltered housing is a priority for the Brigade.
At the moment, the Brigade believes that the vast majority of care homes and sheltered accommodation in the capital are not fitted with these potentially life saving devices.
Last year (2012/13) saw 540 fires in care homes and sheltered accommodation – the majority housing older people - with two people dying and 26 people injured as a result.
London Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner Rita Dexter said: “Older people, as well as people with mental health problems and those with mobility issues, are the group most at risk from fire and we are concerned by the number of vulnerable people like this who are still harmed or killed by fire in places where they should be safe.
"That’s why we want to see all residential care homes fitted with sprinklers. The number and regularity of care home fires that the Brigade attends is clear evidence that builders, developers, local authorities and private providers need to stop ignoring their benefits.”
The latest figures from the Care Quality Commission show there are around 900 care homes for older people or older people and other vulnerable groups in London.
The Brigade believes that sprinklers are a potentially life saving tool that can be effective in stopping fires from spreading and putting them out quickly. By doing this they can also help reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries from fire, particularly in buildings occupied by people with reduced mobility. They also reduce the risks to firefighters.
In Scotland there is already a requirement within Building Standards for all new build residential care buildings to have sprinkler systems installed and London Fire Brigade believes there should be the same level of protection in London.
London Fire Brigade’s Draft Fifth London Safety Plan, which sets out how the Brigade will work over the next three years, includes a target to reduce fires in care homes and sheltered housing by three per cent by March 2016. It also includes a commitment to campaign and promote opportunities for councils and housing providers to provide sprinklers as a cost effective way of saving property and protecting the lives of residents most at risk from fire.
Notes to editors:
The table below shows the number of care home and sheltered accommodation fires in London and the resulting fire related injuries and deaths over the last five years
Year Incidents Fire deaths Fire-related injuries
2008/09 541 3 52
2009/10 500 4 33
2010/11 477 4 40
2011/12 476 1 47
2012/13* 540 2 26
About the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan
Consultation on the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan began on Monday 4 March 2013 and is set to end on Monday 17 June 2013
Members of the public can take part in the consultation by calling 0800 9888 569, by writing to the London Fire Brigade at 169 Union Street, London, SE1 0LL.
Public meetings are being held which cover every London borough. Members of the public are invited to attend the meetings to hear about the proposals and have their say. Details of the meetings can be found on the London Fire Brigade’s website.
The draft Plan outlines a wide range of policies and measures which are intended to improve the safety of Londoners.