Fire Statistics Scotland 2012-13

Statistical bulletin providing statistics on the incidents that Scotland's Fire and Rescue Services attended in 2012-13.

6. Notes on Statistics used in this publication

6.1 Background

6.1.1 The statistics in this publication are compiled from reports submitted to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on fires attended by Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs). Although a variety of Scottish fire statistics are currently published annually by DCLG in their Fire Statistics Great Britain (FSGB), this publication is intended to provide a detailed overview of Scottish fire statistics over the past decade at a Fire and Rescue Service and Scotland level. Detailed information was provided on all fires in buildings, vehicles and outdoor structures and any fires involving casualties on the 'fire damage report' form FDR1 (94) and since 1st April 2009 by the Incident Recording System (IRS). Data collected before IRS on 'secondary' and 'chimney fires' was compiled as aggregated information on the FDR3 form; so subsequent analysis of them is limited.

6.2 Changes to this publication

6.2.1 In April 2009, Scotland's Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) switched from the paper-based forms FDR1 and FDR3 to a new electronic recording system - the IRS. The benefit of this new system is that the data collection process is more streamlined and allows the statistics to be calculated on census data rather than on sampled data. It broadens the data collected to include all incidents attended by FRS, rather than just fire incidents. As with any change in collection there are areas where discontinuity has occurred in a number of 10 year trends for: non-fatal casualties, subcategories of other buildings, outdoor primary fires, secondary fires, smoke alarms and spread of fire, please see section 6.5.2 and 6.5.3 below.

6.2.2 Prior to 2009-10, data input of primary fire data was sampled. The detailed analysis of data other than for fires involving casualties is based on the sampled data grossed to FRSs' totals.

6.2.3 Since the 2008-09 publication the data has been produced in financial years rather than calendar years. The 10 year trend data has been recalculated to this new time span and comparisons to the previous Fire Statistics Scotland series should not be made as the time periods are not aligned. This important change will allow us to compare the fire statistics at GB level and aligns this publication with the rest of Justice Statistical Bulletins

6.2.4 Additional datasets are provided online and will be updated after the release of this publication. These cover the key statistics at FRS level for at least the last ten years and can be found at: This will include any revision to key statistics at FRS level as set out in our revision policy in section 6.3.

Local Authority level key fire statistics for the provisional 2012-13 data will be produced in November 2013, on the website address above - an email will be sent to notify all Scotstat users. To register for Scotstat:

6.2.5 To improve the timing of FRS statistics, this publication provides statistics on provisional data for 2012-13 which was extracted by DCLG on 13 May 2013.

6.3 Revision Policy

6.3.1 The data for this publication is revised for 2011-12 and 2012-13 as of 13 May 2013. IRS is a live system where FRSs can amend previously recorded information e.g. fire casualties. The data for 2012-13 is provisional and will be subject to future revisions. The datasets for 2009-10 and 2010-11 will now be closed and will not be subject to any further revisions except in exceptional circumstances

6.3.2 Revisions may still be made and will be handled according to Scottish Government's 'Corporate Policy Statement on Revisions and Corrections' with the following clarifications:

Data to be revised

When revisions are to be made and where

Scotland figures

Revisions to 2010-11 and 2011-12 to appear in 2012-13 publication (this publication)

Final revised figures for 2010-11 (barring exceptional circumstances) to appear in 2012-13 publication (this publication)

Final revised figures for 2011-12 (barring exceptional circumstances) to appear in 2013-14 publication (next year's publication)

FRS figures

Revisions to Key Statistics at FRS level will be published in the additional datasets on the same basis as above.

6.3.3 The revision policy for Scotland allows for data to be provisional for longer than DCLG and Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) because Fire Statistics Scotland is only published on an annual basis, unlike the other nations' publications.

6.3.4 There was an exceptional revision of data in 2009-10, where Highlands and Islands FRS were investigating a discrepancy between their management information system and IRS. The investigation was not completed before the 2010-11 publication but required revision between categories of fires - this data has now been updated and is available in the "Additional datasets - trends":

6.4 Disclosure

6.4.1 The disclosure policy for data created for the Scotland Fire Data is available on the website with the additional datasets. It covers geographies for Scotland, FRS level and local authority level data.

6.5 Accuracy of Statistics

6.5.1 There was industrial action by FRSs in November 2002, January 2003 and February 2003. No information was recorded for the 15 days when industrial action took place. Previously, an estimate was provided for Scotland by DCLG, but with the move to financial years the datasets are unable to support this manual imputation due to the type of detailed breakdowns used in this publication. It is estimated that for Scotland data for 2003-04 is missing approximately 850 primary fires and 1,600 secondary fires due to the industrial action.

6.5.2 During quality assurance of the data collected from IRS, DCLG has identified the following two areas of potential discontinuity arising from the switchover from the old largely paper-based FDR system to the new IRS questions (i.e. between 2008-09 and 2009-10).

i. The first area relates to increases (typically slight) in the numbers of certain incident types within the data of a handful of Fire and Rescue Services, notably in numbers of primary outdoor fires (Table 1: Road Vehicles and Other Primary Fires). These are apparently not real increases, but rather the result of a small proportion of incidents in the past having been incorrectly reported as being 'secondary fires' rather than 'primary fires'. The following conclusions can be drawn:

  • it appears that these differences follow from incorrect reporting under the old FDR system
  • the effect on national totals appears to be slight

ii. The second area is the discontinuity in the numbers of non-fatal casualties. This follows from improvements to the way in which non-fatal casualties have been recorded since the introduction of the IRS.

  • The first change is that each casualty or fatality can be marked as 'not fire-related'. This is allowed in the IRS system as it collects information on all incidents, unlike the FDR1 form which was specifically a 'report on fires'. In fire incidents, almost all non-fatal casualties can be expected to be 'fire-related', since very few would have occurred if there had not been a fire. However, around 10 % of non-fatal casualties for the UK were marked as not fire-related in 2009-10 at fire incidents. Due to this concern, those non-fatal casualties marked 'not fire-related' have not been excluded. Furthermore, excluding them would have introduced an even larger discontinuity compared to data from before the introduction of the new IRS.
  • For Scotland in particular, the changes in recording of IRS has affected the trend data for non-fatal casualties and it is recommended that this data prior to 2009-10 should not be compared.

Previously precautionary check-ups[4] accounted for about 50 % of all non-fatal casualties, this reduced with the introduction of IRS. IRS has also introduced a new category under 'Severity of injury' which is 'First aid given at scene'. Chart 13 illustrates that when precautionary check-ups are removed from the ten year data the trend increases slightly in 2009-10. This is due to the inclusion of first aid and the increase was expected. However the data including precautionary check-ups shows a distinct drop and should not compared with data before
2009-10. With non-fatal casualties being such an important statistic for community fire safety policies, it was decided not to exclude the previous seven years' worth of data but to mark the tables with a break in trend. Also, to help with comparability, Table 2 now also includes the subset "Non-fatal casualties in primary fires, excluding precautionary check-ups".

Chart 13- Non-fatal casualties from primary fires including/excluding precautionary check-ups, Scotland 2003-04 to 2012-13p

Chart 13- Non-fatal casualties from primary fires including/excluding precautionary check-ups, Scotland 2003-04 to 2012-13

Prior to 2009-10, the FDR1 reporting system asked for "nature of injury" only. The IRS system now asks "What is your understanding of the nature of injury?" and a follow up question on "What is your understanding of the severity of the injury?" Whereas precautionary check-ups were included as a category for what is the nature of injury in FDR1 form, they are now the follow up category in IRS. This means that FRSs must state the nature of injury before they can enter precautionary check-ups as a recommendation, thus reducing the response for precautionary check-ups between these recording systems.

6.5.3 Further quality assurance performed by Scottish Government has highlighted other discontinuities in trend data from 2008-09 to 2009-10:

i. Other buildings prior to 2009-10 were related to industry classifications. When IRS was created more relevant categories were developed. Where possible the 10 year trend has been provided, if IRS and FDR1 definitions are the same.

ii. Outdoor primary fires, except road vehicles, had 27 main category types when recorded in FDR1, with IRS this has increased to 42 types. With the more accurate recording of this information and the introduction of new categories, not all trend data could be aligned. The new categories in Table 9 better support environmental (e.g. woodland and grassland fires) and anti-social behaviour (e.g. deliberate fires) policies.

iii. Secondary fires were previously recorded on an FDR3 form. There were only 6 sub categories for these types of fires. The information was totalled monthly and recorded on this form. IRS now has over 100 categories for secondary fires. These have been grouped but some of the trends have not matched, especially for refuse fires. Previously, this always exceeded 18,000 fires. Now, with the 4 specific 'Refuse' categories in IRS this has reduced to 12,000 fires, which indicates that the IRS is providing wider and more accurate recording of secondary fires and that some fires that would previously have been categorised as 'Refuse' fires are now more accurately recorded in another category. Overall secondary fires are following the expected trends, but there has been a redistribution of the previously recorded FDR 3 refuse fires.

iv. The smoke alarm question on FDR1 was a 'Yes' or 'No' response, whereas on IRS this option has been expanded to 'Yes', 'No' and 'Don't know'. The introduction of this new category has affected the trend data. It was felt important that the previous trend data be displayed, as this is important information for community fire safety policies. It is advised that 2009-10 is not compared with 2008-09 and earlier.

v. IRS allows for more than one smoke alarm to be reported per fire incident. In order to maintain continuity with previous FDR1 data (where there was only one smoke alarm record per incident) if more than 1 smoke alarm is recorded against one IRS incident then any marked 'Present, operated and raised the alarm' have been selected as being the primary reported information for the incident. Further investigation into recording of smoke alarms needs to take place and consultation with UK counterparts on the recording of this will be undertaken in the future.

vi. Before IRS the type of damage caused by a fire was calculated from a grid where the percentages of damage were written against the 4 causes: fire, heat, smoke and other. If smoke and/or heat were the only categories marked, the damage from the fire was considered as 'Heat and/or smoke damage only' and the spread of fire was not applicable. IRS now asks 'was there heat and/or smoke damage only?' as a specific question. If 'Yes' is answered to this question, the spread of fire is not applicable. Prior to 2009-10 heat and/or smoke damage never exceeded 6 % of all dwelling fires. With the introduction of IRS this has jumped to 45 %. It is felt that further investigation is needed and it may be that another variable in IRS may be used in the future to estimate size of damage, which includes smoke and/or heat damage. Further analysis and consultation with UK counterparts on the recording of this will be undertaken in the future.

vii. In IRS, the motive of fire is reported as 'accidental' or 'deliberate'. The cause of fire also has 'deliberate' as a possible option. In FDR1 the 'deliberate' motive was the same as the 'deliberate' cause. This is not the same in IRS. In the IRS data, there is a small percentage of building fires where the motive and cause are different. The cause has been reported as 'Other' or 'Unspecified' although the motive was 'deliberate'. To maintain trend data, when the motive of fire is 'deliberate', the motive over-rides the cause of fire.

6.5.4 The databases before 2009-10 contain details of all fires with casualties, but only a sample of other fires. The data were all weighted to agreed Fire and Rescue Services' totals. The detailed analysis of data other than for casualties, or fires involving casualties was based on the sampled data grossed to Fire and Rescue Services' totals. The data in the pre-2009-10 tables may not summate to the total shown, due to the rounding of the sample data within subcategories.

6.5.5 In April 2012, there was an upgrade to the Incident Recording System (IRS). At this time there were some changes to some of the lower sub-categories

for location and special services.

The details of these changes can be found at the Department of Communities and Local Government Website:

In table 6, a number of the new special services categories were combined to form the previous categories to enable comparisons with previous years. These categories were:

i. 'Medical incident co-responder' and 'Medical incident first responder' have been combined into the original category 'Medical incident co-responder/first responder'

ii. 'Removal of objects from people' and 'Removal of people from objects' (new categories) have been combined into the original category 'Removal of objects'.

In tables 9, 9a, 19 and 19a.

iii. the 'Outdoor location' categories have been aligned to produce the previous categories. For example, 'Wheelie bins' is now a new separate sub-category, but has been combined back into 'Refuse - small/rubbish container' to preserve the trend data.

Other changes resulting from the IRS amendments were:

iv. In table 6b and 6c, a number of new sub-categories have been introduced for RTC and Flooding. Where data for these new categories is available for 2011-12, this is due to the incident being added retrospectively.

6.6 Additional Information

6.6.1 DCLG will publish comparable fire statistics for Great Britain for 2012-13 at the following link in Winter 2013 - the links to fire statistics for Wales and Northern Ireland have also been supplied.

DCLG - England

Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) - Wales

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Services - Northern Ireland

6.6.2 Summary information on the quality of these statistics and the potential use of the fire statistics can be found at:

6.6.3 In 2011-12, a data user review of this publication was undertaken. The results of this review can be found at:

If you wish to comment on the contents of this publication, please contact us on:

6.6.4 If you have an interest in fire statistics, please register with Scotstat. This is a website that allows you to register an interest on topics that Scottish Government produces statistics on; it also provides email alerts to the forthcoming changes, stakeholder consultations and publishing of statistical bulletins in areas you have marked of interest. To register an interest in fire, please tick this topic under the Justice heading. The link to this website is: or send an email to: requesting to be added to the fire data review..

6.7 Forthcoming changes

6.7.1 This is the last publication reporting on the 8 former FRS areas. The publication for 2013-14 will be the first publication covering the single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). The next publication will be redesigned to report information at Scotland and local authority level where appropriate. A data consultation on the new look publication will take place in winter 2013.

6.7.2 DCLG are in the process of reviewing IRS at the time of this publication. Any forthcoming changes from this review will be passed on to users of this publication through Scotstat and Scottish Government website:

6.8 UK Statistics Authority - Assessment Report

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

  • meet identified user needs;
  • are well explained and readily accessible;
  • are produced according to sound methods; and
  • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

The Assessment report, which was published in June 2012, can be accessed via the following link:

6.9 Glossary of terms

6.9.1 Details of the questions and categories used in the recording of incidents under the new IRS are available in the document IRS Questions and Lists. This can be downloaded from:
Incident recording system - questions and lists - version 1.6

Primary fires: Include all fires in non-derelict buildings and outdoor structures or any fires involving casualties or rescues or any fires attended by five or more appliances.

Secondary fires: Are the majority of outdoor fires including grassland and refuse fires unless they involve casualties or rescues, property loss or if five or more appliances attend. They include fires in derelict buildings but not chimney fires.

Fire fatal casualty: Fire fatalities include any fatal casualty which is the direct or indirect result of injuries caused by a fire incident. Even if the fatal casualty dies subsequently, any fatality whose cause is attributed to a fire is included. There are also occasional cases where it transpires subsequently that fire was not the cause of death. For all of these reasons, fatalities data may therefore be subject to revision.

Precautionary checks: A precautionary check is when an individual is sent to hospital or advised to see a doctor as a precaution, having no obvious injury or distress.

Special services: Special Services are non-fire incidents requiring the attendance of an appliance or officer. The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 placed a statutory duty on FRS to attend fires and road traffic accidents. It also included an additional function order that covers non-fire incidents such as rescues from collapsed buildings or serious flooding (Table 6 for the special service categories included in the publication).

Fires - impairment due to suspected alcohol/drugs use: In relation to the fire, FRS can record where they suspect that a contributory factor to the fire was due to a person being impaired because of suspected use of alcohol and/or drugs.

6.9.2 The following list shows the definitions used on the fire report form FDR1 (94):

A reportable fire: (no specific definition prior to 1994)
a reportable fire is an event of uncontrolled burning involving flames, heat or smoke and which the FRS attended.

Late fire call: (no specific definition prior to 1994)
A fire known to be extinguished when the call was made (or to which no call was made, e.g. a fire which comes to the attention of the FRS as a result of a press report or inquest) and the FRS attended. Late fire calls are included as fires in this publication.

Heat or smoke damage incidents (no specific definition prior to 1994)
These are reportable 'fires' where there is no fire damage. The damage reported may be due to any combination of heat, smoke and other which will include any water damage. All heat and/or smoke damage incidents are included as fires in this publication.

Location: The type of premises, property or countryside in which the fire started. This is not necessarily the type of premises in which most casualties or damage occurred as a result of the fire.

Cause of fire: The defect, act or omission leading to ignition of the fire.

Deliberate: Includes fires where deliberate ignition is merely suspected, and recorded by the FRS as "doubtful".

Accidental: Includes fires where the cause was not known or unspecified.

Source of ignition: The source of the flame, spark or heat that started the fire.

Spread of fire: The extent to which fire damage (as opposed to heat, smoke or other damage) spread, for example, beyond the room of origin.

Buildings: All buildings including those under construction, but excluding derelict buildings or those under demolition. Prior to 1994 'buildings' were referred to as 'occupied buildings'.

Dwellings: Buildings occupied by households, excluding hotels, hostels and residential institutions. Mobile homes are specifically included in the dwelling count. In 2000, the definition of a dwelling (for FDR1 purposes) was widened to include any non-permanent structures used solely as a dwelling, such as caravans, houseboats etc. (amounts to 0.3 % of the total number of UK dwelling fires). This change brings the definition of a dwelling more in line with that required under Best Value legislation. All analyses prior to 1998 relating to dwellings were retrospectively revised to include the new categories of dwelling. Caravans, boats etc. not used as a permanent dwelling are shown according to the type of property (caravan, vehicle etc.).

Chimney fires: These are reportable fires in occupied buildings:

- where fire was confined within the chimney structure
- that did not involve casualties or rescues
- attended by four or fewer appliances

Outdoor fires: The term 'outdoor fires' used in this publication refers to primary and secondary fires in road vehicles, other outdoor property, derelict buildings and derelict vehicles and more minor refuse, grassland and intentional straw/stubble fires.

Non-fatal casualty: Non-fatal casualties consist of persons who were:

- given first aid at the scene of the fire

- sent to hospital to see a doctor for injuries (appeared to be slight or serious)

- advised to see a doctor for a check-up or observation (whether or not they actually did).

People sent to hospital or advised to see a doctor as a precaution, having no obvious injury, are recorded as "precautionary check-ups".

Non-Fire and Rescue Service casualty: Refers to fatal or non-fatal casualties involving persons who are not members of the FRS.

Fire and Rescue Service casualties: Refers to fatal or non-fatal casualties involving FRS personnel.

False Alarm: A false alarm is defined as an event in which the FRS believes they are called to a reportable fire and then there is no such incident. False alarms are categorised as:

- Malicious - the call was made with the intention of getting the fire and rescue service to attend a non-existent fire-related incident. This includes a 'deliberate' and 'suspected malicious' intentions.

- Good Intent - the call was made in good faith in the belief that the FRS really would attend a fire.

- Due to Apparatus - the call was initiated by fire alarm and fire fighting equipment operating (including accidental initiation of alarm apparatus by a person).

6.10 Symbols

6.10.1 Symbols used in the tables are:
- Nil or less than half the final digit shown
p Provisional
r Revised
* Trend data not comparable to current information


Email: Lindsay Bennison

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