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Statistical Bulletin: Crime and Justice Series: Fire Statistics Scotland, 2008-09 Final (2009-10 Provisional)

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3. Commentary

This year the publication contains provisional figures for 2009-10 in Tables 1 - 5. These figures are still to be finalised but they provide a more timely aspect to the publication. It is important to remember when using these figures that they are provisional and that they may be amended in future publications.


Tables 6 to 18 are the finalised figures for 2008-09; this information has more detailed category breakdowns available than the current provisional figures.


This year's publication has changed from reporting on a calendar year basis to financial year basis. For all Scotland level tables, figures are provided to cover a minimum of ten years. For Fire and Rescue Service ( FRS) level we have only produced tables for financial years 2008-09 and where available for 2009-10. It is our intention to provide ten year trend tables at FRS level on our website by the end of 2010.

With the change from calendar year to financial year, the estimates for the 2002-03 when industrial action took place have not been included ( see note 5.3.2 for explanation).

From the 1 st April 2009, Scotland's Fire and Rescue Services started using the Incident Recording System ( IRS). This web-based recording system replaced the paper based FDR1 and FDR3. The change in data collection method has allowed the data for 2009-10 onwards to be collected on a census basis rather than being a sample. There is one area where a possible discontinuity of trend data has been noted and this is with non-fatal casualties ( see note 5.3.3 for further explanation). This is being investigated.

Provisional Data 2009-10

3.1 Total number of fires (Tables 1, 1a & 1b)

There was a provisional total of 38,658 fires (primary, secondary and chimney fires - see section 5.4) in Scotland for 2009-10, 5 per cent lower than the 40,570 fires recorded in 2008-09. Provisionally, primary fires accounted for 36 per cent (13,974) of the total number of fires in 2009-10, 59 per cent (22,960) were secondary fires and 4 per cent (1,724) were chimney fires.

Within provisional primary fires for 2009-10, the highest proportion were dwelling fires (47 per cent), followed by other buildings (21 per cent), fires in road vehicles (20 per cent) and other primary fires (11 per cent).

The number of provisional primary fires for 2009-10 was 13,974, an increase of 6 per cent from the 2008-09 figures of 13,174. The 2009-10 provisional figures are the third lowest number of primary fires in the last 11 years. Secondary fires fell by 10 per cent to stand at the provisional figure of 22,960 for 2009-10. Chimney fire figures decreased by 21 fires to the provisional figure of 1,724 for 2009-10.

The provisional total number of fires in 2009-10 (38,658) is the lowest in the last eleven years, however there have been some large changes within the categories of fires. In 2009-10 secondary fires have decreased 29 per cent from 2006-07. As secondary fires are the highest proportion of total fires, changes within this category will have a greater influence over total fire figures for Scotland. (Chart 2)

Chart 2 - Fires by location, Scotland (1)(2), 1999-00 to 2009-10 (p)

Chart 2 - Fires by location, Scotland, 1999-00 to 2009-10

Notes

(p)- provisional

(1) - including late call, heat and smoke damage only incidents

(2) - with the exception of 2009-10, figures for primary fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level

(3) - does not include incidents that occurred during national industrial action in November 2002, January 2003 and February 2003

(4) - includes caravans, houseboats and other non-building structures used solely as a permanent dwelling

3.2 Casualties by location (Tables 2, 2a, 2b, 3, 3a & 3b)

In Scotland in 2009-10 the provisional figure for fatal casualties from primary fires was 59 - a decrease of 5 persons from 2008-09. The provisional figure for 2009-10 was the second lowest in the reported eleven year period. The provisional figure for fatal fire casualties in dwellings for 2009-10 was 51, of these 46 were in accidental dwelling fires. The provisional figures for fatal casualties from dwellings in 2009-10 were the second lowest for this reported 11 year period whereas the figures for fatal casualties from accidental dwelling fires were the third lowest.

The provisional figure for non-fatal casualties in 2009-10 was 1,195. Currently it is not possible to compare the provisional figure for 2009-10 with past figures due to the introduction of the IRS as it is believed that there has been a discontinuity of trend data ( see note 5.3.3 for further explanation). The highest number of non-fatal casualties in 2009-10 occurred in dwellings 1,010 (85 per cent), 874 of which occurred in accidental dwelling fires.

The provisional rate for fatal casualties in 2009-10 per 1000 accidental dwelling fires was 8.6 i.e. there were approximately 9 fatal casualties for every 1,000 accidental dwelling fires that occur in Scotland. This is the fifth lowest rate over the reported eleven year period for this publication. (Chart 3)

Chart 3 - Fatal casualties rate per 1000 accidental dwelling fires, Scotland (1)(2), 1999-00 to 2009-10 (p)

Chart 3 - Fatal casualties rate per 1000 accidental dwelling fires, Scotland, 1999-00 to 2009-10

Notes

(p) - provisional

(1) - including late call, heat and smoke damage only incidents

(2) - figures for primary accidental dwelling fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level

(3) - does not include incidents that occurred in national industrial action in November 2002, January 2003 and February 2003

3.3 False fire alarms (Tables 4 , 4a & 4b)

In 2009-10, the provisional total of false alarms in Scotland constituted 51,954 incidents. Of these 36,232 (70 per cent) were due to apparatus failure. The 2,931 malicious false fire alarms accounted for 6 per cent of total false alarms. This is the lowest figure for malicious false alarms reported in eleven year period included in this publication. The remaining 12,791 (25 per cent) false alarms were raised with good intent.

3.4 Special services ( Table 5)

With the introduction of IRS, this is the first time this publication has been able to report on special service incidents ( see note 5.4.1 for definition). In 2009-10 the provisional total of special service incidents attended by FRSs was 11,439. The highest proportion of these incidents were road traffic collisions (where a fire did not occur) at 26 per cent (2,926) followed by flooding incidents at 18 per cent (2,034).

Finalised Data - 2008-09

3.5 Building fires (Tables 6 & 6a)

In 2008-09, a total of 9,335 primary building fires were recorded in Scotland, down 3 per cent from 2007-08 (9,588 primary building fires). Dwelling fires accounted for 72 per cent (6,705 fires) of Scotland's total primary building fires. In comparison to 1999-00, the number of both 'other building' fires and dwelling fires are down by over a quarter (28 per cent and 36 per cent respectively).

3.6 Outdoor fires (Tables 7 & 7a)

Primary outdoor fires were down by 5 per cent in 2008-09 (3,839) compared to 2007-08 (4,030 primary outdoors fires). For the last ten years road vehicle fires have represented the largest proportion of fires in this category, with road vehicle fires accounting for 76 per cent of all primary outdoor fires in 2008-09.

Secondary outdoor fires have reduced by 16 per cent from 2007-08 to 25,651 for 2008-09. The most common category in secondary fires was refuse (including refuse containers). In 2008-09 there were 18,890 refuse fires, down by 14 per cent on 2007-08 (22,010).

In total there were 29,490 outdoor fires in 2008-09, this is the lowest value in the ten years reported in this publication.

3.7 Casualty numbers and rates from fires (Tables 8, 8a, 9 and 10)

In 2008-09, 64 fatal casualties occurred in primary fires. The fatal casualty rate per million population for Scotland was 12.4; this is the third lowest rate in the ten years reported in this publication. The group with the highest rate of fatal casualties was the 60 and over age group. Their rate of 24.8 fatal casualties per million population was double Scotland's total rate (12.4). (Chart 4)
The majority of 60 and over age group fatal fire casualties were due to being overcome by smoke and fire (17 out of 29 fatal casualties). Being overcome by smoke and fire was the highest reported cause of death in all age groups.

In 2008-09, there were 1,648 non-fatal casualties from primary fires. The non-fatal casualty rate per million population for Scotland was 318.9; this is the lowest rate in the ten years reported in this publication. When FRS personnel are excluded from these figures the rate for 2008-09 drops to 313.6. Of the 1,621 non-fatal (non- FRS) casualties in 2008-09, 46 per cent (753 non-fatal non- FRS casualties) were reported as precautionary check-ups.

The age group with the highest rate of non-fatal (non- FRS) casualties per million population was 17-29 year olds with 420.4, followed by 30-59 year olds with 331.5. (Chart 4) Whereas the highest number of non-fatal casualties were in the 30-59 year old age group with 707 non-fatal casualties reported in 2008-09.

Chart 4 - Non- FRS personnel casualties rates per million population from primary fires - Scotland (1)(2), 2008-09

Chart 4 - Non-FRS personnel casualties rates per million population from primary fires - Scotland, 2008-09

Notes:

(1) - refers to person who is not a member of the Fire and Rescue Service

(2) - population data supplied by GROS: Mid-Year Estimates 2008

3.8 Deliberate and accidental primary fires (Tables 11 & 12)

In 2008-09, 8,602 primary fires were considered accidental compared to 4,572 that were considered deliberate, 65 and 35 per cent respectively. For 2008-09, the most common location for an accidental fire was in a dwelling (63 per cent), whereas the most common location for a deliberate fire was a road vehicle (37 per cent).

In 2008-09, there were 56 fatal casualties in accidental primary fires and 8 in deliberate primary fires. In both accidental and deliberate fires the majority of fatal casualties occurred in dwellings, 49 and 5 fatal casualties (88 per cent and 63 per cent) respectively.

There were 1,331 non-fatal casualties in accidental primary fires and 317 in deliberate primary fires in 2008-09, both dropped from 2007-08 by 4 per cent. Again the majority of non-fatal casualties occurred in dwellings, 1,188 in accidental dwelling fires (89 per cent) and 269 in deliberate dwelling fires (85 per cent).

Over the 10 year period reported in this publication, fatal and non-fatal casualties for 2008-09 for accidental primary fires are at their third lowest year. Whereas fatal casualties and non-fatal casualties from deliberate fires fell to their second lowest and their lowest values (respectively) within the same 10 year period.

3.9 Smoke alarms (Tables 13 & 13a)

In 2008-09, 2,379 primary dwelling fires (35 per cent of total dwelling fires) occurred in dwellings without a smoke alarm. This compares with 3,003 (45 per cent) fires that occurred in dwellings where smoke alarms were present, operated and raised the alarm.

In the 10 year period covered by this publication, the majority of fatal casualties occurred in primary dwelling fires where either a smoke alarm was absent or smoke alarm was present but failed to operate. (Chart 5)

Chart 5 - Primary fires in dwellings by smoke alarm presence and operation, Scotland - 2008-09 (1)(2)

Chart 5 - Primary fires in dwellings by smoke alarm presence and operation, Scotland - 2008-09

Notes

(1) - including late call, heat and smoke damage only incidents

(2) - includes caravans, houseboats and other non-building structures used solely as a permanent dwelling

3.10 Causes of fires (Tables 14, 14a & 15)

In 2008-09, 20 per cent (1,308) of primary dwelling fires were deliberate, an increase of 10 per cent from 2007-08.

The most common cause of primary dwelling fire was due to misuse of equipment or appliances, 39 per cent (2,594 dwelling fires) followed by deliberate fires 20 per cent (1,308 dwelling fires) and then faulty appliances and leads, 12 per cent (788 dwelling fires).

Chip or fat pan fires dropped by 70 per cent from 1999-00 to 2008-09 (1,706 to 509 respectively), whereas faulty leads and appliances have increased by 21 per cent over the same time period (652 to 788 respectively). (Chart 6)

Just under half of fatal casualties for 2008-09 in accidental dwelling fires (23 of 49 fatal casualties) arose due to careless handling of fire and hot substances, of these 22 were from smoker's material and matches. The majority of non-fatal casualties from accidental dwelling fires were due to misuse of equipment or appliances (42 per cent).

Chart 6 - Top 5 causes of fires in dwellings, 1999-00 to 2008-09, Scotland (1)(2)(3)

Chart 6 - Top 5 causes of fires in dwellings, 1999-00 to 2008-09, Scotland

Notes

(1) - including late call, heat and smoke damage only incidents

(2) - figures for primary accidental dwelling fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level

(3) - includes caravans, houseboats and other non-building structures used solely as a permanent dwelling

(4) - does not include incidents that occurred during national industrial action in November 2002, January 2003 and February 2003

(5) - deliberate fires include fires where deliberate or malicious ignition was merely suspected

3.11 Spread of fire ( Table 16)

In 2008-09, 57 per cent of fires in dwellings were 'confined to the item' and 31 per cent of dwelling fires travelled 'beyond the item but were confined within the room'. Within the 10 year period reported in this publication these percentages have remained relatively stable. The ten year range for 'confined to the item' is (54 - 59) per cent and the range for 'beyond item but confined to room' is (31 - 36) per cent.

3.12 Time of call to Fire and Rescue Services (Tables 17, 17a & 18)

In 2008-09, the majority of call outs to primary fires generally occurred between mid-afternoon to late evening (3pm to midnight). Scotland's total peak hour for 2008-09 for call outs to primary fires was 7pm (885 incidents).

Call outs to dwelling fires peak between 5pm to 7pm in 2008-09. Other building fires were more likely to occur between 3pm to 9pm whereas primary outdoor fires generally occurred between 6pm and 2am. (Chart 7)

In 2008-09, the ratio for casualties per 1,000 primary fires peaked during late evening to early morning. The ratio for non-fatal casualties to 1,000 dwelling fires peaked between 11 pm to 5 am. Whereas the ratio for fatal casualties per 1,000 dwelling was peaked at 4 am and 7 am in 2008-09. (Chart 8)

Chart 7 - Primary fires by location and time of call, Scotland, 2008-09 (1)(2)

Chart 7 - Primary fires by location and time of call, Scotland, 2008-09

Notes:

(1) - including late call, heat and smoke damage only incidents

(2) - figures for primary accidental dwelling fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level

Chart 8 - Rate of fatal and non-fatal casualties per 1000 primary dwelling fires by time of call Scotland, 2008-09 (1) (2)

Chart 8 - Rate of fatal and non-fatal casualties per 1000 primary dwelling fires by time of call Scotland, 2008-09

Notes:

(1) - including late call, heat and smoke damage only incidents

(2) - figures for primary accidental dwelling fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level