South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
  • In emergencies call 999
  • General enquiries 0114 272 7202

Smoke alarms missing in a third of fatal fires

Smoke alarms were missing in a third of fatal fires in Yorkshire, a new academic study has found.

It’s prompted a fresh plea from fire chiefs for people to fit the potentially life saving devices and to test them regularly.

The startling statistic is amongst several findings in what is thought to be the largest report into fatal fires in Yorkshire ever published

In the last five years, 133 people have died in house fires in Yorkshire and Humber.

Other findings in the report, led by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) with support from the three other Yorkshire and Humber fire and rescue services, include:

  • Early evening is the deadliest time of the day for fatal fires
  • Nearly a third (37) of all fire deaths were the result of arson
  • Smoking is Yorkshire’s biggest killer in accidental fires, causing nearly half (45%) of fatal blazes
  • Men are almost twice as likely to die in house fires as women
  • An accidental, fatal fire is more likely to start in the living room than any other room in the house

SYFR Assistant Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “It’s shocking that after decades of national and local advertising campaigns and fire services fitting hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in people’s homes for free, people are still dying in house fires in Yorkshire where smoke alarms were not present.

“Our message to the public could not be clearer- fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them regularly.”

Officers hope the research, compiled by forensic science student Victoria Moss, will help fire and rescue services to better understand the causes of fatal fires and ways to prevent them.

Victoria has been on a year long work placement with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, in a unique partnership with Nottingham Trent University, which offers one of the country’s most respected forensic science degrees.

The research is now expected to be extended nationally, with backing from the Chief Fire Officer’s Association (CFOA).

“This study finally disproves popular public myths around house fires, including the idea that most fire deaths happen at night. In fact, this research has found that tea time is the deadliest time of the day.

“Findings like this are invaluable in helping us to better target the safety advice we give to members of the public. Fatal fires have dropped dramatically this century both in South Yorkshire and across the UK thanks to the work we are already doing to make local communities safer. But every single incident is someone’s death and someone’s personal tragedy.

“By working together and sharing knowledge and information with our neighbouring fire and rescue services, we hope to reduce the number of people who have to experience such loss even further,” said Martin.

This content was last updated on August 22nd, 2016