Fire and Rescue Statistics, Scotland, 2013-14

Statistical bulletin providing the latest statistics on fires, special service incidents, casualties and false alarms attended by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

2. Main Points

2013-14 Provisional Data

  • In 2013-14, the SFRS attended 27,979 fires in Scotland. This is 5 per cent more than the previous year (26,719) but is the second lowest annual total in the last decade. There has been a general decreasing trend in the total number of fires in Scotland in the last ten years (Table 1).
  • The number of primary fires attended in 2013-14 decreased by 5 per cent compared to the previous year (from 11,068 to 10,529). This continues the gradual downward trend of the last ten years (Table 1).
  • The increase in the total number of fires attended reflected a 15 per cent rise in the number of secondary outdoor fires compared to the previous year (from 14,276 in 2012-13 to 16,359 in 2013-14). The number of secondary fires attended in 2013-14 was still the second lowest in the last decade (Table 1).
  • Around half of primary fires in 2013-14 were in dwellings (5,330 or 51 per cent). The number of dwelling fires is important as the majority of fire casualties occur in dwelling fires (87 per cent in the last ten years). There were 9 per cent less dwelling fires in 2013-14 than in the previous year (5,834), continuing the downward trend of the last decade (Table 1).
  • Of the 5,330 dwelling fires in 2013-14, the most common cause was 'misuse of equipment or appliance' (41 per cent) followed by 'deliberate' (12 per cent). Deliberate dwelling fires were at a ten year low in 2013-14 (Table 21).
  • The majority of fires attended in 2013-14 were secondary outdoor fires (16,359 or 58 per cent). Eighty two per cent of secondary fires were deliberate (13,443) compared to 24 per cent (2,577) of primary fires. Secondary fires have consistently had a much higher proportion of deliberate fires than primary fires (Tables 1, 17 &19).
  • The most common location for an accidental primary fire in 2013-14 was in a dwelling (59 per cent). There was a decrease of 6 per cent in the number of accidental dwelling fires in 2013-14 (4,681) compared to the previous year (5,003), continuing the downward trend of the last ten years (Table 17).
  • Provisionally, there were 33 fatal fire casualties in 2013-14 - a decrease of 13 (28 per cent) on the revised figure of 46 for 2012-13. Whilst the number of fatal casualties in fires is prone to fluctuation, this continues the general downward trend of the last ten years (Table 2).
  • Almost nine in ten fire fatalities in 2013-14 were in dwelling fires (29 out of 33). Of the 29 dwelling fire fatalities, 24 (83 per cent) were in dwelling fires which started accidentally (Table 2 and 17).
  • In 2013-14, there were 6.2 fatal casualties from fire per million population in Scotland. Scotland has consistently had a higher rate of fire fatalities than England and Wales (5.1 and 5.5 per million population respectively), although the gap was smaller this year than in any of the last ten years (Table 10).
  • Fire fatality rates for people aged 60 and over are higher than for younger people. In 2013-14, the rate of fatal casualties in the 60 and over age group was 13 per million population, more than double the national average (6 per million population). Whilst this is the case, the fatality rate for persons aged 60 and over in 2013-14 was at its lowest in the last decade (Table 15).
  • The most common cause of death in fires was being overcome by smoke, gas or fumes (39 per cent of the total or 13 fatal casualties). This was also the most common cause of injury for non-fatal casualties, accounting for almost half of all non-fatal casualties in 2013-14 (45 per cent or 596 non-fatal casualties). (Tables 12b and 12c).
  • For the sixth year in a row the most common source of ignition for accidental dwelling fires in which a fatality occurred was 'smokers' materials and matches', accounting for 14 of the total 24 fatal casualties (58 per cent) in accidental dwelling fires (Table 23).
  • Three in every four non-fatal casualties in fires occurred in accidental dwelling fires (990 of a total 1,311) (Table 17).
  • Misuse of equipment or appliances was the main cause of accidental dwelling fires where non-fatal casualties occurred (35 per cent or 342 non-fatal casualties). The main source of ignition was cooking appliances, accounting for around three in five non-fatal casualties (59 per cent or 583 non-fatal casualties) (Table 23).
  • Impairment due to suspected alcohol and/or drugs use was reported to be a contributory factor in 15 per cent of accidental dwelling fires (716) in 2013-14. The rate of non-fatal casualties per 1,000 accidental dwelling fires was three times higher where alcohol/drugs were believed to be a contributory factor (475 per 1,000 fires), compared to where alcohol/drugs were ruled out (151 per 1,000 fires). (Tables 3, 24 & 24b).
  • In 2013-14, almost half of all fatal casualties in dwelling fires occurred where there was a smoke alarm present which either did not operate or failed to raise the alarm (14 out of 29 fatal casualties). The most common reason for an alarm failing to operate was that the fire was not close enough to the alarm (48 per cent), was in an area not covered by the detector (9 per cent) or the alarm battery was defective (9 per cent). (Tables 20 and 20b).
  • In 2013-14, fire false alarms accounted for 56 per cent of all incidents attended by the SFRS, more than any other incident type. Whilst the total number of fire false alarms has decreased by 12 per cent over the last decade, the number which were due to apparatus has increased by 5 per cent (Table 4).
  • Three in every four fire false alarms in 2013-14 were due to apparatus, 70 per cent of which were in 'other buildings' (not single dwellings) (Tables 4 & 4d).
  • Special service or non-fire related incidents accounted for around one in ten of all incidents attended by the SFRS in 2013-14, a total of 9,148 incidents (Table 6).
  • The total number of special service incidents attended by the SFRS has decreased by 20 per cent in the last five years, although there was little change between 2012-13 (9,158 incidents) and 2013-14 (9,148 incidents) (Table 6).
  • Road traffic collisions (RTCs) were the most common type of special service incident attended in 2013-14 (23 per cent of the total) (Table 6).


Email: Phillipa Haxton

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