Decrease in number of fires but slight increase in fatalities

THE Scottish Government has welcomed new figures which show that the number of house fires in Scotland are at their lowest in a decade.

Tuesday’s Fire Statistics, 2011-12 publication also reveals the overall number of fires is at a 10-year low, standing at 32,204 for the past year.

Blazes in the area covered by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service accounted for 5.992 of the total with 2,504 primary fires and 3,354 secondary.

Fires in the regions claimed 13 fatalities in 2011/12 whilst 392 people suffered non fatal injuries as a result of being involved in a blaze.

The majority of fires dealt with by firefighters in the Lothian and Borders area took place in people’s homes (1,199) and of these 490 were caused by the mis-use of equipment; 198 started deliberately and 105 attributed to a faulty appliance.

Of the accidental fires attended to impairment due to suspected alcohol and/or drugs use was a contributory factor in 112 of them.

The national figure suggsted that drugs and/or alcohol was the catalyst in 17 per cent of accidental house fires.

The provisional figure for fatal fire casualties nationwide in 2011-12 was 57 – an increase of five (10 per cent) on the revised figure of 52 for 2010-11, but still the third lowest figure over 10 years.

Of the provisional fire fatal casualties for 2011-12, 51 occurred in dwelling fires and 47 of these were attributed to accidental dwelling fires.

The most common cause of house fires where a death occurs continues to be smokers’ materials and matches, which account for almost half, whereas for non-fatal casualties it was cooking appliances which accounted for 58 per cent of injuries.

Commenting on the figures, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham said: “The figures demonstrate that our Fire and Rescue Services are taking the importance of fire prevention very seriously.

“I am pleased their hard work to increase understanding of the risks of fire in the home is continuing to be heard. It is thanks to their work – which I have seen fantastic examples of in schools, workplaces and communities – that house fires are continuing to decrease across Scotland and lives are being saved.

“It is a tragedy however that lives continue to be lost to fire every year. Every death is devastating and underlines that we all need to be on our guard against the risks.

“The most important message we can give is not to be complacent and always be on your guard. We also urge you to get a smoke alarm and check it regularly to ensure it is in working order. Alarms really do save lives.

“People can request a free Home Fire Safety Visit from their Fire and Rescue Service, by texting FIRE TO 61611.”