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Statistical Bulletin CrJ/2006/2: Fire Statistics Scotland, 2004

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2.Main Points

  • Total fires (primary, secondary and chimney fires) decreased by 28 per cent between 2003 and 2004, reaching 46,900. This was largely due to the decrease in numbers of secondary fires - in particular grassland fires - as the hot dry summer of 2003 was not repeated in 2004. Secondary fires decreased by 35 per cent between 2003 and 2004, and accounted for 63 per cent of all fires, compared with 69 per cent in 2003.
  • Compared to 2003, primary fires fell by 12 per cent to stand at 15,800. In 2004 primary fires accounted for 34 per cent of all fires, compared with 27 per cent in 2003. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of primary fires were in buildings, 26 per cent were road vehicle fires and the remaining primary fires were other outdoor fires.
  • Chimney fires fell by 24 per cent between 2003 and 2004 to 1,700 (4 per cent of all fires compared with 3 per cent in 2003).
  • In Scotland there were a total of 99 fatal casualties in 2004 - an increase of 24 per cent compared with 2003. Seventy-six fatal casualties (77 per cent) occurred in dwelling fires and 17 (17 per cent) were in other buildings. The number of non-fatal casualties in Scotland in 2004 was 1,858, a decrease of 1 per cent compared with 2003.
  • 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. It is of note that the Scottish rate of fatal casualties per 1,000 dwelling fires tends to be more similar to the rates in the other UK countries. This suggests that the reason for Scotland's higher overall fatality rate per million population reflected a higher risk of dwellings fires rather than a greater likelihood of a fatal casualty occurring in such fires.
  • The principal cause of fatal casualties was being overcome by gas and smoke (77 per cent of fatal casualties). A further 10 per cent of fatal casualties were caused by burns alone, and 8 per cent of fatal casualties were caused by a combination of burns and being overcome by smoke.
  • Looking at fatal casualties in accidental dwellings fires, the main source of ignition, where specified, was smokers' materials and matches (44 per cent), followed by cooking appliances (26 per cent, mostly involving chip pan fires) and space heaters or candles (6 per cent each).
  • There were 6,532 deliberate primary fires, representing 41 per cent of total primary fires in 2004 - down from 44 per cent in 2003. The pattern of accidental fires causing significantly more fatal and non-fatal casualties than deliberate fires has held throughout the past 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 2004, there were 54,095 total fire false alarms, representing 54 per cent of total call outs to fires (primary, secondary and chimney) and false fire alarms.