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Fire Statistics Scotland, 2001

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FIRE STATISTICS SCOTLAND, 2001

1. Introduction

1.1 This bulletin is the second in the series, presenting statistics on fires in Scotland. These statistics are compiled from reports submitted to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on fires attended by all United Kingdom (UK) local authority fire brigades in 2001. This bulletin provides a detailed overview of Scottish fire statistics over the past decade, at a brigade and Scotland level with comparison with the other UK countries. (Further details of the background and basis of the statistics are given in the Notes in the Annex).

1.2 This bulletin is the collective work of staff within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (formerly the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions), Fire Statistics and Research Section and the Scottish Executive Justice Statistics Unit. In particular we would like to thank Jon Gamble and Lorraine Watson from the Fire Statistics and Research Section for the provision of the bulletin tables and for their advice and encouragement in setting up this bulletin.

Chart 1: Fatal Casualties 1 from fire by location group, Scotland, 1992-2001

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2. Main Points
  • There were 59,400 total fires (primary, secondary and chimney) in Scotland in 2001, an increase of 7 per cent on the 55,700 fires recorded in 2000.
  • Around one-third of all fires were primary fires. Sixty-five per cent of primary fires were in buildings, 29 per cent were road vehicle fires and the remaining primary fires were other outdoors fires. Just over three-fifths of all fires were secondary fires and the remaining 6 per cent were chimney fires.
  • Since 2000, primary fires have fallen by 2 per cent, whilst secondary fires have risen by 12 per cent and chimney fires increased by 10 per cent in 2001.
  • Over the past decade total Scottish secondary fires have risen by 55 per cent. The principal categories of secondary fires that this rise can be attributed to are an increase in grassland & heathland fires and an increase in refuse fires.
  • In Scotland there were a total of 103 fatal casualties in 2001 - an increase on the figures from 2000 of 28 fatal casualties or 37 per cent but still just under the number in 1999. 88 fatal casualties (85 per cent) occurred in dwellings fires and 12 (12 per cent) occurred in road vehicles.
  • The number of non-fatal casualties in Scotland in 2001 was 2,091, a decrease of 8 per cent compared with 2000. Of these non-fatal casualties; 1,799 occurred in dwellings fires (86 per cent), 171 (8 per cent) occurred in other buildings and 71 (3 per cent) occurred in road vehicles.
  • In comparison to the other UK countries, Scotland reported both the highest number of fatal casualties per million population and the highest rate of non-fatal casualties (to those not working for fire brigades) per million population
  • The principal cause of fatal casualties was being overcome by gas and smoke (42 fatal casualties). 31 fatal casualties were caused by a combination of burns and being overcome by smoke and 22 fatal casualties were caused by burns alone.
  • There were 8,806 malicious fires in 2001, representing 45 per cent of total primary fires in 2001 - the highest percentage of primary fires in the last 10 years. However, accidental fires have caused significantly more fatal and non-fatal casualties over the decade.
  • In the years since 1994, the majority of fatal casualties have occurred in dwellings fires where either the smoke detector was present but failed to operate or in dwellings fires where a smoke detector was absent.
  • In 2001, total fire false alarms in Scotland constituted 53,800 incidents, representing just under half (48 per cent) of total call outs to fires (primary, secondary and chimney) and false fire alarms.
  • In 2001, the majority of fatal and non-fatal casualties generally occur from early afternoon through to early morning (approx. 3pm to 2am) which is similar to the majority of call outs to fires.
3. Commentary

Total number of fires

There were 59,400 total fires (primary, secondary and chimney) in Scotland in 2001, an increase of 7 per cent on the 55,700 fires recorded in 2000 . Around one-third of all fires were primary fires. Sixty-five per cent of primary fires were in buildings, 29 per cent were road vehicle fires and the remaining primary fires were other outdoors fires. Just over three-fifths of all fires were secondary fires and the remaining 6 per cent were chimney fires.

Since 2000, primary fires have fallen by 2 per cent to stand at 19,800 fires in 2001, whilst secondary fires have risen by 12 per cent to stand at 36,200 fires in 2001. Chimney fires increased by 10 per cent to stand at 3,400 in 2001.

Between 1992 and 2001 the total number of Scottish fires increased by 14 per cent, due entirely to a 55 per cent increase in secondary fires. The number of chimney fires decreased by 56 per cent.

Dwellings fires

Scottish dwellings fires accounted for 69 per cent (8,834 fires) of Scotland's total buildings fires. This compares with 60 per cent for England, 57 for Wales and 65 per cent for Northern Ireland. In comparison to 1992 dwellings fires are down 8 per cent in 2001 and all other buildings fires are also down 8 per cent.

Chart 2: Fires 1 by location, Scotland, 1992-2001 2,3

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Outdoor fires

Over the last 10 years, outdoor fires in Scotland have risen by 42 per cent; however the number of primary outdoor fires in 2001 was slightly lower than in 1992. In Scotland, road vehicle fires accounted for 13 per cent of total outdoor fires (including secondary fires) in 2001, the equivalent proportion for the UK as a whole was almost twice this at 24 per cent. In 2001 fires in road vehicles comprised 82 per cent of all primary outdoor fires in Scotland.

Secondary fires

Over the past decade total Scottish secondary fires have risen by 55 per cent. The principal categories of secondary fires that this rise can be attributed to are (i) an increase in grassland & heathland fires of 87 per cent or 3,914 fires and (ii) an increase in refuse fires of 45 per cent or 7,354 fires. Sixty-six per cent of all secondary fires in 2001 involved refuse or refuse containers.

Casualties from fires

In Scotland, there were a total of 103 fatal casualties in 2001 - an increase on the figures from 2000 of 28 fatal casualties or 37 per cent but still just under the number in 1999. 88 fatal casualties (85 per cent) occurred in dwellings fires and 12 (12 per cent) occurred in road vehicles.

Chart 3: Fatal casualties 1 from fires by cause of death 2, Scotland, 2001

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The principal causes of fatal casualties was being overcome by gas and smoke (42 fatal casualties). 31 fatal casualties were caused by a combination of burns and being overcome by smoke, 22 fatal casualties were caused by burns alone, 5 fatal casualties had an unspecified cause and 2 fatal casualties were caused by physical injuries.

The number of non-fatal casualties in Scotland in 2001 was 2,091, a decrease of 8 per cent compared with 2000. Of these non-fatal casualties; 1,799 occurred in dwellings fires (86 per cent), 171 (8 per cent) occurred in other buildings and 71 (3 per cent) occurred in road vehicles.

Casualty rates from fires

There were 20 fatal casualties per million population in Scotland in 2001. The age group with the highest rate of fatal casualties was 80 and over, with 36 per million population. The second highest rate was for the 65 - 79 age group with 34 per million population, followed by 60 - 64 age group with 23 per million population. The age group with the lowest casualty rate was the 11 - 16 age group with 3 per million population. There were no fatal casualties of babies aged under 1.

In comparison to the other UK countries, Scotland reported both the highest number of fatal casualties per million population (20 fatal casualties per million population) and the highest rate of non-fatal casualties (to those not working for fire brigades) per million population (399 non-fatal casualties per million population). The equivalent figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, were 10, 11, 10 and 268, 322 and 250 respectively. Within Scotland the number of fatal casualties per million population was highest in Grampian (30 fatal casualties per million population), Tayside (23 fatal casualties per million population) and Highlands and Islands (22 fatal casualties per million population ). The remaining brigade areas reported fatal casualty rates which were equal or less than the Scottish rate.

Chart 4: Fatal casualties 1 per million population, by brigade area and at Scotland level, 2001

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Malicious fires

There were 8,806 malicious primary fires in 2001, representing 45 per cent of total primary fires in 2001 - the highest percentage of primary fires in the last 10 years. In 2001, there were 15 fatal casualties from malicious fires and these accounted for 15 per cent of total fatal casualties. There were 487 malicious fire non-fatal casualties in 2001 - the highest figure in the last 10 years, accounting for 23 per cent of Scotland's total non-fatal casualties.