News

06-09-18

New Home Office fire statistics have been published

The Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has responded to the detailed fire statistics published by the Home Office today (6 September).

The detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services in England, between April 2017 and March 2018, expand on the statistics first published in August.

In 2017/18, fire and rescue services in England attended around 565,000 incidents, which is an increase of  one per cent on the previous year, and an 8 per cent increase on figures released in 2012/13 (521,000).  The increases were mainly driven by higher numbers of non-fire incidents attended and also secondary fires.

There has also been an increase in the number of fires attended by 3 per cent in the last year, from around 162,000 in 2016/17 to around 167,000 in 2017/18.

There were 89,017 secondary fires attended in 2017/18. This was an increase of seven per cent compared with the previous year in 2016/17 (82,842) and one of 23 per cent compared with five years ago in 2012/13 (72,497), but a decrease of 48 per cent compared with ten years ago in 2007/08 (172,306).

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher has reiterated his concerns about the increase in incidents, at a time when all UK fire and rescue service are likely to face further budget cuts.  He said: “I am disappointed to see the increase in both the number of incidents attended and especially the rise in the number of fires attended. This puts additional pressure on all fire services which are already been stretched.   

“When the statistics were first released last month, I raised that the number of wholetime firefighters has fallen by 21 per cent since 2010/2011. While we are seeing some services recruiting and there has been a recent push using national campaigns, it is vital that the communities fire services represent have confidence in their emergency services, especially at a time the fire services is facing additional public scrutiny.

“This decrease in firefighters, the increase in incidents – especially the number of fires – needs to be taken into account by the government when funding for the fire service is being looked into. We also need to take into account that following the Grenfell Tower fire and the independent Hackitt Review into Building Regulations and Fire Safety, there is likely to be more work for fire and rescue services which requires appropriate funding.”

Of all incidents attended by FRSs in 2017/18, fires accounted for 30 per cent and non-fire incidents 30 per cent. The remaining 40 per cent were fire false alarms, which continued to be the largest incident type.  

All incidents

 FRSs attended 564,827 incidents in 2017/18. This was a one per cent increase compared with the previous year (560,453) but a 29 per cent decrease compared with ten years ago (791,746 in 2007/08). The total number of incidents was on a downward trend for around a decade, though they have increased in recent years mainly driven by increases in non-fire incidents attended.  

Fires 

  • FRSs attended 167,150 fires in 2017/18. This was a three per cent increase compared with the previous year (161,997) but a 43 per cent decrease compared with ten years ago (293,920 in 2007/08). The increase in fires is driven by an increase in secondary fires with primary fires showing a small decrease.  

 Non-fires

  • FRSs attended 172,052 non-fire incidents in 2017/18. This was a one per cent decrease compared with the previous year (174,560). The recent decrease in non-fire incidents is mainly due to a decline in emergency medical responding linked to many of the trials stopping in September 2017. For around a decade, there had been a general decline in the number of non-fire incidents. However, recent years have shown large increases, largely due to a rise in medical incidents attended.  

 False alarms

  • FRSs attended 225,625 fire false alarms in 2017/18. This was a one per cent increase compared with the previous year (223,896) but a 32 per cent decrease compared with ten years ago (331,478 in 2007/08). 

 Fatalities and casualties

  • The number of fire-related fatalities had been on a general downward trend since comparable figures first became available in 1981/82, when there were 755 fire-related fatalities, though the numbers have fluctuated due to the relatively small numbers involved. In 2017/18, however, there were 334 fire-related fatalities (including 71 from the Grenfell Tower fire) compared with 263 in the previous year (an increase of 27%).  
     
    There were 3,306 non-fatal casualties requiring hospital treatment1 in 2017/18 (including 77 from the Grenfell Tower fire). This was a six per cent increase compared with the previous year (3,128) but a 13 per cent decrease compared with five years ago (3,811 in 2012/13). 
  • Cooking appliances were by the far the largest ignition category in accidental dwelling fires and non-fatal casualties from accidental dwelling fires, accounting for 48 per cent of these incidents respectively. In contrast, cooking appliances were the source of ignition in only seven per cent of accidental dwelling fire-related fatalities.
  • Smokers’ materials (such as lighters, cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco) were the source of ignition in seven per cent of accidental dwelling fires and nine per cent of accidental dwelling fire non-fatal casualties in 2017/18. In contrast, smokers’ materials were the source of ignition in 20 per cent of fire-related fatalities in accidental dwelling fires in 2017/18.
  • Fires where a smoke alarm was not present accounted for 25 per cent (7,807) of all dwelling fires and 21 per cent (54) of all dwelling fire-related fatalities in 2017/18. This is in the context of 10 per cent of dwellings not having a working smoke alarm in 2016/17 (the latest year for which data are available)
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