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Statistical Bulletin: Crime and Justice Series: Fire Statistics Scotland, 2006

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2. Main Points

  • In 2006, the total number of fires in Scotland was 50,520, eight per cent higher than in 2005 (46,971). Of these fires, 14,930 (30 per cent) were primary fires, 33,907 (67 per cent) were secondary fires and 1,683 (3 per cent) were chimney fires.
  • The number of primary fires fell for the seventh consecutive year and is at the lowest level in the 10 year period covered by this bulletin. There was an increase in both secondary fires (12 per cent) and chimney fires (16 per cent) compared to 2005.
  • Over 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. The most common secondary fires were refuse fires (66 per cent) and grassland fires (26 per cent).
  • In Scotland, there were a total of 52 fatal casualties in 2006 - a fall of 13 (20 per cent) on the figure for 2005 and the lowest figure in the 10 year period covered by this bulletin. Forty five (87 per cent) fatal casualties in 2006 occurred in dwellings fires and 5 (10 per cent) were in road vehicles.
  • The number of non-fatal casualties in Scotland in 2006 was 1,635, a decrease of 2 per cent compared with 2005 and, as with fatality figures, the lowest in the 10 year period covered by this bulletin. Of these non-fatal casualties, 1,419 (87 per cent) occurred in dwellings fires, 121 (7 per cent) in other buildings and 60 (4 per cent) in road vehicles.
  • In comparison to the other UK countries, Scotland reported the second highest number of fatal casualties per million population (behind Northern Ireland) and the highest rate of non-fatal casualties 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 casualty rate per million population reflects a higher risk of dwellings fires rather than a greater likelihood of a casualty occurring in such fires.
  • The biggest cause of fatal casualties was being overcome by gas or smoke (26 fatal casualties, or 50 per cent). A further 14 (27 per cent) fatal casualties were caused by a combination of burns and being overcome by gas or smoke, and 8 (15 per cent) fatal casualties were caused by burns alone.
  • Of the 35 fatal casualties in accidental dwellings fires, the most common main source of ignition was smokers' materials and matches which was the source in 10 fatalities (down from 28 in 2005), followed by cooking appliances (9 fatalities), mainly involving chip or fat pan fires.
  • There were 5,774 deliberate primary fires in 2006, representing 39 per cent of the total. These deliberate fires caused 13 fatalities and 373 non-fatal casualties. However, the pattern of accidental fires causing significantly more fatal and non-fatal casualties than deliberate fires has held throughout the past decade.
  • Over the 10 years covered by this bulletin, 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 2006, total false fire alarms in Scotland constituted 54,263 incidents, representing 52 per cent of total call outs to fires (primary, secondary and chimney) and false fire alarms.