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Statistical Bulletin Crime and Justice Series: Fire Statistics Scotland, 2009-10, (2010-11 Provisional)

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4. Commentary

This year the publication contains provisional figures for fires, fire casualties and special services for 2010-11 in Tables 1 to 5. These figures are still to be finalised but they provide a more timely aspect than was previously possible 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, this is especially true of casualties (see note 6.3.1 for revisions policy).


Tables 6 to 19 are the most recent figures for 2009-10; this information has more detailed category breakdowns available than the previously published provisional figures. All figures supersede the provisional figures for 2009-10, and the figures provided in this publication should be used in the reporting of fire statistics for Scotland.

For all Scotland level tables, figures are provided to cover a minimum of ten years. At Fire and Rescue Service ( FRS) level we have only produced tables for financial years 2009-10 and where available for 2010-11. There are additional datasets available that provide trend figures at FRS level over ten years for the main statistics at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/Datasets/DatasetsFire

Provisional Data 2010-11

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

The provisional total of all fires (primary, secondary and chimney fires) in Scotland for 2010-11 is 38,927, 1 per cent higher than the revised figure of 38,720 fires recorded in 2009-10. Provisionally, primary fires accounted for 34 per cent (13,231) of the total number of fires in 2010-11, 62 per cent (24,162) were secondary fires and 4 per cent (1,534) were chimney fires.

The provisional number of primary fires for 2010-11 was 13,231, a decrease of 6 per cent from the 2009-10 revised figure of 14,003. Within primary fires for 2010-11, the highest proportion were dwelling fires (48 per cent), followed by other buildings (21 per cent), fires in road vehicles (20 per cent) and other primary fires (10 per cent). The 2010-11 provisional figures are the second lowest number of primary fires in the last 11 years

Secondary fires increased by 5 per cent to the provisional figure of 24,162 for 2010-11 and chimney fire figures decreased by 12 per cent to the provisional figure of 1,534 for 2010-11.

The provisional total number of fires in 2010-11 (38,927) is the second lowest value in the last eleven years, however there have been some large changes within the categories of fires. In 2010-11 secondary fires have decreased 25 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 the total fire figure for Scotland. This year there has been a 5 per cent increase in secondary fires that has contributed to the 1 per cent increase in all fires since 2009-10. (Chart 3)

Chart 3 - Fires by location, Scotland 2000-01 to 2010-11p

Chart 3 - Fires by location, Scotland 2000-01 to 2010-11p

Notes

p - provisional

r - revised

(1) - with the exception of 2009-10 and 2010-11, figures for primary fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level

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

(3) - includes caravans and houseboats used solely as a permanent dwelling

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

In Scotland in 2010-11 the provisional figure for fatal casualties from primary fires was 47 - a decrease of 13 persons from 2009-10. The figure for 2010-11 was the second lowest in the reported eleven year period. The provisional figure for fatal fire casualties in dwellings for 2010-11 was 40, of these 38 were in accidental dwelling fires. The provisional figures for fatal casualties from dwelling fires and accidental dwelling fires in 2010-11 were again the second lowest for this reported 11 year period. The figures are provisional and can change due to the findings of fire investigation etc. The 2009-10 provisional figure published last year has now increased by 1 and is reported as 60 and not 59.

The provisional figure for non-fatal casualties in 2010-11 was 1,294. This is an increase on the revised 2009-10 figure of 1,209 of 7 per cent. The highest number of non-fatal casualties in 2010-11 occurred in dwellings fires (1,108 or 86 per cent), 945 of which occurred in accidental dwelling fires. The number of non-fatal casualties excluding precautionary check-ups in primary fires was 1,077, an increase of 14 per cent from 2009-10. (See section 3 and 6.3.3- for explanation to the reporting of non-fatal casualties).

The provisional rate for fatal casualties per 1000 accidental dwelling fires in 2010-11 was 7.2 . This is the second lowest rate over the reported eleven year period for this publication (Chart 4). This year the rate is lower than the eleven year average of 8.9. The eleven year average -which shows that nearly 9 people die for every thousand accidental dwelling fires in Scotland.

Chart 4 - Fatal casualties rate per 1000 accidental dwelling fires, Scotland, 2000-01 to 2010-11p

Chart 4 - Fatal casualties rate per 1000 accidental dwelling fires, Scotland, 2000-01 to 2010-11p

Notes

p - provisional

r - revised

(1) - with the exception of 2009-10 and 2010-11, figures for accidental dwelling fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level

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

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

In 2010-11, the provisional total of false alarms in Scotland constituted 48,752 incidents. Of these 34,517 (71 per cent) were due to apparatus failure. Malicious false fire alarms accounted for 5 per cent (2,670) of total false alarms. This is the lowest figure for malicious false alarms reported in the eleven year period included in this publication. The remaining 11,565 (24 per cent) false alarms were raised with good intent.

4.4 Special services ( Table 5 & 5a)

In 2010-11, the provisional total of special service incidents attended by FRSs was 11,297. The highest proportion of these incidents were flooding incidents at 22 per cent (2,471), closely followed by road traffic collisions (where a fire did not occur) at 21 per cent (2,401). The number of special service incidents this year has decreased by 2 per cent compared to the 2009-10 revised figure of 11,497.

Revised Data - 2009-10

4.5 Building fires ( Tables 6 & 6a)

In 2009-10, a total of 9,565 building fires were recorded in Scotland, this is an increase of 2 per cent from 2008-09 (9,335 building fires). This is the second lowest value over the ten year period, and of these building fires 69 per cent occurred in dwellings. The 'Other building' sub-categories have changed since 2008-09 and reporting is now on these new categories. The percentage breakdown of other buildings is highest in 'Other residential' at 20 per cent, followed by 'Private garages, sheds, etc' (14 per cent) and then 'Retail buildings' (11 per cent) (Chart 5).

Chart 5 - Percentage of Fires in Other Buildings, Scotland, 2009-10 r

Chart 5 - Percentage of Fires in Other Buildings, Scotland, 2009-10r

Notes

r - revised

(1) - there has been a change in the recording of other buildings - see paragraph 6.3.4 i for details

4.6 Outdoor fires ( Tables 7 & 7a)

Primary outdoor fires have increased by 16 per cent in 2009-10 (4,438) compared to 2008-09 (3,839). This increase is likely to be due to the better recording of such fires through the IRS as explained in paragraph 6.3.3. For the last ten years road vehicle fires have represented the largest proportion of fires in this category, accounting for 67 per cent of all primary outdoor fires in 2009-10. This year IRS has enabled us to profile the type of road vehicles in which the fires occurred. Of the 2,991 vehicle fires in 2009-10, 53 per cent of vehicle fires occurred in cars (not abandoned), 19 per cent occurred in abandoned vehicles and the rest occurred in other types of road vehicles (non-cars) (28 per cent).

Secondary outdoor fires have reduced by 10 per cent from 2008-09 to 22,978 in 2009-10. Part of this decrease in secondary outdoor fires can be explained by the increase in primary outdoor fires (see paragraph 6.3.3). The most common category in secondary outdoor fires was refuse fires. Unfortunately the trend data has been affected by change in the recording system as previously there were only 6 sub-categories that secondary fires could be recorded under and now there are over 100 (see paragraph for 6.3.4). This has led to a reduction in the reporting of refuse fires as they are now spread amongst the new classifications but refuse fires still account for over half of all outdoor secondary fires. IRS has new subcategories for type of refuse fires, with 6,549 (55 per cent) being loose refuse/ rubbish tip fires, 4,398 (37 per cent) being a small /rubbish container fires ( e.g. wheelie bins) and 870 (7 per cent) are large/rubbish containers ( e.g. skips).

4.7 Casualty numbers and rates from fires ( Tables 8, 8a, 9, 9a, 9b, 10, 10a & 10b)

In 2009-10, 60 fatal casualties occurred in primary fires. The fatal casualty rate per million population for Scotland was 11.6; this is the second lowest rate in the ten years reported in this publication (2000-01 to 2009-10). The group with the highest rate of fatal casualties was the '60 and over' age group. Their rate of 22.7 fatal casualties per million population was nearly double Scotland's total rate (11.6). (Chart 6). For the '60 and over' group who were fatal fire casualties the largest proportion were overcome by smoke, gas or fumes (11 out of 27 fatal casualties).

In 2009-10 there were 1,209 non-fatal casualties from primary fires. The non-fatal casualty rate per million population for Scotland was 232.8. When FRS personnel are excluded from these figures the rate for 2009-10 drops to 229.5. With the changes to IRS, 'Overcome by smoke, gas or fumes' is now the main reason for non-fatal casualties (38 per cent) whereas in the past it has been 'Precautionary check-ups'. This year a new category has been introduced for 'Smoke inhalation but not to the extent of being overcome'. This has been gathered from free text field that is provided where the injury can not be easily categorised. IRS has also provided information on the nature of treatment, 36 per cent of non-fatal casualties went to hospital with injuries that appeared slight whereas 34 per cent had first aid on the scene of the incident.


The age group with the highest rate of non-fatal (non- FRS) casualties per million population was 17-29 year olds with 262.9, followed closely by 60+ year olds with 258.3 and 30-59 year olds with 255.2 (Chart 6). The highest number of non-fatal casualties was in the 30-59 year old age group with 543 non-fatal casualties reported in 2009-10.

At Scotland level 83.2 non-fatal (Non- FRS) casualties per million population went to hospital with slight injuries. This category has the highest 'nature of treatment' rate per million population for all age ranges apart from 0-16.

Chart 6 - Non- FRS personnel fire casualties rates per million population from primary fires - by age range, Scotland, 2009-10 r

Chart 6 - Non-FRS personnel fire casualties rates per million population from primary fires - by age range, Scotland, 2009-10r

Notes

r - revised

(1) - refers to persons who are not members of the fire and rescue service

(2) - there has been a change in the recording of non-fatal casualties and 2009-10 and beyond can no longer be compared to previous years - see section 3 for details

4.8 Deliberate and accidental fires ( Tables 11, 12 & 13)

In 2009-10, 9,390 primary fires were reported as accidental compared to 4,613 that were considered deliberate, 67 and 33 per cent respectively. For 2009-10, the most common location for an accidental fire was in a dwelling (57 per cent), whereas the most common location for a deliberate fire was a road vehicle (32 per cent). Between 2000-01 and 2009-10, fatal casualties for 2009-10 in accidental primary fires is at it's third lowest level. Fatal casualties in deliberate fires fell to their lowest value (equal to 2004-05) over the same 10 year period.

In 2009-10, there were 53 fatal casualties in accidental primary fires and 7 in deliberate primary fires. In both accidental and deliberate fires the majority of fatal casualties occurred in dwellings, 47 and 5 fatal casualties (89 per cent and 71 per cent) respectively.

There were 1,031 non-fatal casualties in accidental primary fires and 178 in deliberate primary fires. Again the majority of non-fatal casualties occurred in dwellings, 882 in accidental dwelling fires (86 per cent) and 138 in deliberate dwelling fires (78 per cent).

Secondary fires are more likely to be deliberate (80 per cent) compared with primary fires (33 per cent). In 2009-10, there were 18,276 deliberate secondary fires compared to 4,702 accidental fires. The majority of deliberate secondary fires involved refuse (53 per cent), followed by grassland (29 per cent). Within accidental secondary fires refuse and grasslands were the most common type of fire, 45 per cent and 37 respectively.

4.9 Smoke alarms ( Tables 14 & 14a)

With the introduction of IRS a new category has been included in the reporting of smoke alarms - i.e. 'Don't know if smoke alarm was present' (see paragraph 6.3.4) - thus affecting the comparability of these statistics before 2009-10. In 2009-10, 2,465 primary dwelling fires (38 per cent) occurred where a smoke alarm was absent and there were 242 dwelling fires (4 per cent) where it was not known if a smoke alarm was present.

In 38 per cent of primary dwelling fires in 2009-10, there was a smoke alarm present, that operated and raised the alarm (2,522). (Chart 7)

In the majority of years between 2000-01 and 2009-10, the highest proportion of fatal casualties occurred in primary dwelling fires where a smoke alarm was absent.

Chart 7 - Primary fires in dwellings by smoke alarm presence and operation, Scotland - 2009-10 r

Chart 7 - Primary fires in dwellings by smoke alarm presence and operation, Scotland - 2009-10r

Notes

r - revised

(1) - includes caravans and houseboats used solely as a permanent dwelling

(2) - there has been a change in the recording of smoke alarms - see paragraph 6.3.4 iv

4.10 Causes of fires ( Tables 15, 15a & 16)

The most common cause of primary dwelling fires was 'Misuse of equipment or appliances' (39 per cent, 2,563 dwelling fires) followed by 'Deliberate fires' (18 per cent, 1,194 dwelling fires) and then 'Careless handing of fire or hot substances', (10 per cent, 630 dwelling fires). Deliberate dwelling fires are at a ten year low for 2009-10. (Chart 8)

Although deliberate fires in other buildings are also at a ten year low, it is still the highest cause of fire in other buildings at 32 per cent (969) of other building fires.

Over half of fatal casualties for 2009-10 in accidental dwelling fires (25 of 47 fatal casualties) arose due to careless handling of fire and hot substances, of these 21 were from smokers' materials and matches. The main cause of non-fatal casualties from accidental dwelling fires was misuse of equipment or appliances (35 per cent), especially cooking appliances.

Chart 8 - Top 5 causes of fires in dwellings (excluding 'others' as a cause), 2000-01 to 2009-10, Scotlandr

Chart 8 - Top 5 causes of fires in dwellings (excluding 'others' as a cause), 2000-01 to 2009-10, Scotlandr

Notes

r - revised

(1) - with the exception of 2009-10 and 2010-11, figures for primary fires are based on sample data weighted to Fire and Rescue Service level

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

(3) - includes caravans and houseboats used solely as a permanent dwelling

(4) - Under IRS, the category for "Misuse of equipment or appliances" includes incidents which have been recorded as "Other cooking" (a new category introduced with IRS). It is believed that the majority of these incidents were previously recorded as the misuse of cooking appliances under the FDR1 collection

4.11 Spread of fire ( Table 17)

With changes to recording through the IRS system, the new category 'smoke and/or heat damage only' caused 45 per cent of damage in dwellings (see paragraph 6.3.4). Of the 55 per cent of incidents in dwellings that had flames (3,596) most fires (39 per cent) were 'confined to the item'.

4.12 Time of call to Fire and Rescue Services ( Tables 18, 18a & 19)

In 2009-10, the majority of call outs to primary fires (over 700 an hour) to primary fires generally occurred between mid-afternoon to late evening (4 pm to 11 pm). Scotland's total peak hour for 2009-10 for call outs to primary fires was 6 pm to 6.59 pm. (942 or 7 per cent).

Call outs to dwelling fires peak between 5 pm and 8 pm in 2009-10. Other building fires were more likely to occur between 5 pm to 10 pm whereas primary outdoor fires generally occurred between 6 pm and 3 am. (Chart 9)

In 2009-10, 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 was at it lowest between 10 am to 10 pm. Whereas the ratio for fatal casualties per 1,000 dwelling was peaked at 1 am and 4 am and again between 8 am and 9 am in 2009-10. (Chart 10).

The numbers of dwelling fires are greater between mid-afternoon to late evening but the rate of casualties per 1000 dwelling fires increases between late afternoon to mid-morning.

Chart 9 - Primary fires by location and time of call, Scotland, 2009-10r

Chart 9 - Primary fires by location and time of call, Scotland, 2009-10r

Chart 10 - Rate of fatal and non-fatal casualties per 1000 primary dwelling fires by time of call Scotland, 2009-10r

Chart 10 - Rate of fatal and non-fatal casualties per 1000 primary dwelling fires by time of call Scotland, 2009-10r