House fires at 10 year low
Figures that show the number of house fires in Scotland are at their lowest in a decade have been welcomed by the Scottish Government.
Today’s Fire Statistics, 2011-12 publication also reveals the overall number of fires is at a 10-year low.
However, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham has urged caution after the statistics underlined a link remains between alcohol, drug use and fire. In line with last year, 17 per cent of accidental dwelling fires had alcohol and/or drugs as a suspected contributory factor. The most common cause of house fires where a death occurs continues to be smokers’ materials and matches, which account for almost half.
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham said:
"Today’s 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.
"The importance of the preventative work done by the eight current forces cannot be overstated and I know the Chair of the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Pat Watters, and the Chief Officer, Alasdair Hay, are keen to maintain and develop the excellent work ongoing in communities across all parts of Scotland when the new service goes live.
"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.
"Once again, alcohol and/or drugs were suspected to have been a factor in at least one in six accidental house fires. Although other key figures in this publication indicate an improving awareness of the danger of fire in our homes, this underlines that a link remains between alcohol, drug use and fire.
"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.
"Our campaigns are raising awareness of the risks of fire, be it alcohol consumption, smoking, misuse of electrical appliances or the overloading of electrical sockets, but more can and will be done to encourage everyone to take fire safety seriously.
"People can request a free Home Fire Safety Visit from their Fire and Rescue Service, by texting FIRE TO 61611, or via the ‘Don’t Give Fire a Home’ website, which provides fire safety advice."
Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) are a key prevention tool. They take around 20 minutes and are free. They are delivered by Fire and Rescue Service personnel who help people assess fire risks in their home, offer fire safety advice and where appropriate install a free smoke alarm(s).