22 October 2014
As a new drama hits TV screens depicting the Great Fire of London, London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) Commissioner has said the public are now more safe from fire than ever before.
New figures released recently show the number of fires in London last year was around 57 each day compared to 111 just a decade ago. The number of blazes across the capital have halved since 2004/5 and are consistently below the first recorded figures. However, we’re warning that modern city life still poses numerous fire risks.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, said: "The figures show that Londoners are now safer from fire than ever before. Despite London’s population growing by almost a million in the last decade, the number of fires in the capital is 50% lower.
"We shouldn’t be complacent as fire can still kill or seriously injure just like it did 350 years ago.
"In the past, Londoners worried about sparks from open fires and overcrowded streets next door to workplaces like foundries, smithies and glaziers. Now we need to be concerned about fake phone chargers, converted buildings which are unsuitable for accommodation and careless disposal of cigarettes.
"Just as Samuel Pepys had his diary detailing the Great Fire our @LondonFire twitter feed gives up to date information about serious, high profile or unusual incidents attended across the capital. We've followed Pepys' lead and now people can not only learn about incidents but also get life saving fire safety messages as well."
Reduction of fire
“We believe the reduction in the number of fires we attend is in no small part down to the community and regulatory fire safety work carried out by our staff. Specifically, the way we target those most at risk from fire.”
A report last year estimated that 5000 fires had been prevented by firefighters carrying out home fire safety visits, with vulnerable people being 18 times less likely to have a fire if they receive a visit.
The report also found that social media is the best tool to target London’s young educated professionals who are responsible for a quarter of all house fires. Figures showed that young professionals are having two fewer fires a week since the Brigade started using social media.
Common fire risks 1666 versus 2014
- 1666: People living in overcrowded streets next door to workplaces, many of which were fire hazards-foundries, smithies, glaziers?
- 2014: Beds in sheds – converted buildings which are unsuitable and pose a fire risk
- 1666: Open fires near homes built from cheap materials often with overhanging timber frames?
- 2014: 60 per cent of fires in the home start in the kitchen, mainly caused by cooking left unattended
- 1666: Overcrowding and narrowly packed streets meant means of escape were difficult?
- 2014: Faulty or misused electrical appliances cause fires
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.