The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Causes of Fire – Part 66

October 5, 2020 12:54 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 65, LWF looked at fire resistance. In part 66, we begin to talk about fire statistics and how often people are the ultimate cause of fire.

Many of the causes of fire are officially attributed to something inanimate – faulty wiring is one example – when it is often the case that if greater attention had been paid during installation or ongoing maintenance, a fire would not have occurred.

In order to reduce incidences of fire, it is necessary to understand how fires have started in the past and the analysis of statistics on sources of ignition is an obvious and helpful place to begin.

In the U.K., fire statistics are published each year by the Home Office (prior to 2016, this was the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government). The statistics are compiled from data collected each time the Fire Service attend a fire. After each attendance, a report is made and the statistics can only be as accurate as the opinion of the officer in charge at the site of each fire, although some fires are further investigated after the fact by specialist fire investigators within the Fire Service.

The statistics are not able to give an insight into those fires which occur but to which the Fire Service aren’t summoned.

In a given year, the statistics on how fires start vary only a small amount. In the year 2018/2019, 48% of accidental dwelling fires were attributed to cooking appliances and only 8% to smokers’ materials, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes. However, only 8% of the fatalities that year were due to the cooking appliances, while 34% of fire-related deaths in domestic premises were due to the relatively small amount of smoking-related fires.

Of the primary fires attended in 2018/2019 (primary fires are those which are considered most serious and involve fires occurring in buildings, any fire involving a casualty, fatality or rescue or large fires) 29,595 were in dwellings and 15,025 took place in other buildings. For our purposes, ‘other buildings’ are businesses and commercial buildings. The remainder of the 182,915 fires attended were attributed to road vehicles, outdoor fires and chimney fires.

In part 67, LWF will continue looking at the statistics of fire and how this should inform fire prevention and avoidance in the future. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.



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