London

London fire deaths down by 20% in five years

trackside fire in Vauxhall Image copyright PA
Image caption Crews attended a major fire by the trackside in Vauxhall railway station in south London in May. The cause of the fire was believed to be sparks from a passing train

The total numbers of fires and fire deaths are down by more than 20% in the past five years, figures from London Fire Brigade show.

Last year a total of 36 people died from fires in the capital compared with 47 fatalities five years ago.

The fire brigade said the improvement was largely down to better fire education among the public.

There were 20,770 fires in London last year down 25% on 2011/12, but eight more deaths from deliberate fires.

Deaths from deliberate fires stand at 11 so far this year compared with three in 2014/15.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "The downward trend in fires and fire deaths is a testament to the incredible hard work of our fire fighters in carrying out almost 87,000 home fire safety visits last year."

Mr Dobson cautioned against complacency and said: "Far too many old and vulnerable people are dying unnecessarily in avoidable fires either because they have mobility issues and may struggle to raise the alarm or their home lacks appropriate fire detection."

In nearly half of fire deaths in the capital there was a delay in calling 999. He said this made fire safety systems such as automatic sprinklers, a monitoring alarm system called Telecare and flame retardant bedding extremely important.

Fatal fire facts

Elderly and mentally ill at risk

50%

of victims were aged over 70

66%

of those who died lived alone

  • 33% of victims had mental health issues or were in receipt of care

  • 1/3 of fatal fires were caused by smoking

Getty Images

As part of the additional savings from last year's budget the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority approved a one-off £1m investment to install those fire safety systems in the homes of London's most vulnerable, to help reduce the number of fires and fire deaths.

Five year trend figures show that accidental fire deaths in the home are down 36% and accidental house fires are down 15% compared to 2011/12 figures.

Deaths from deliberate fires including suicide attempts have increased and although the brigade works with partner agencies to help prevent these, deaths from deliberate fires are much harder for the fire brigade to influence.

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