Scotland

Scottish fire deaths at 20-year low

Firefighters tackling a car blaze Image copyright SPL

The number of people killed in fires has fallen to its lowest for more than 20 years, provisional figures show.

There were 33 deaths from fires in buildings and vehicles in Scotland in 2013-14 compared with 46 the previous year - a decrease of 28%.

Almost nine in 10 of those died in house fires, the majority of which were accidental.

Smoking materials and matches accounted for more than half (58%) of fatal accidental house fires.

Alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in a quarter.

Almost half of all fatalities in the home happened where there was a smoke alarm present which either did not operate or failed to raise the alarm.

The rate of fatalities in the over-60s age group was more than double the national average of 6.2 per million.

Dedicated firefighters

The statistical bulletin said: "The provisional figure for the total fatal casualties from primary fires in 2013-14 is the lowest for more than 20 years.

"Whilst the number of fire deaths is prone to fluctuation, the latest figure continues the long-term downward trend in fire fatalities."

A total of 1,311 people were injured in fires over the same period, according to the figures.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) attended 27,979 fires during the year, an increase of 5% on the previous year but the second lowest annual total in the last decade.

House fires fell by 9% to 5,330, continuing a 10-year downward trend.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service chief officer Alasdair Hay said: "I know from first-hand experience how hard-working and dedicated our staff throughout the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are.

"The fact that the number of house fires across Scotland has continued to fall since last year is also a reflection of the public's commitment to join Scotland's fight against fire and take part in protecting their communities."

Valuable advice

He added: "Last year local firefighters continued to conduct free home fire safety visits around the country, completing 71,357 visits.

"The SFRS has a clear message - working smoke alarms saves lives. These figures show that message is getting heard and people are safer from fire in their homes."

Community safety minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "It is encouraging that fire deaths are now at their lowest since current records began, as are fires in homes, taking them to the lowest in a generation.

"While the significant reduction in the number of people hurt or killed in fires is to be welcomed, every death is a tragedy and there are 33 families across Scotland who are without a loved one as a result of fires last year.

"It's crucial that we remember the relatively small numbers of cases mean there can be quite extreme fluctuations, although there is no doubt that these figures are testament to the hard work of the fire and rescue services in Scotland, and their continued focus on prevention.

"It is crucial that people across Scotland listen and follow their valuable advice."

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