Residential property fires were responsible for 82% of fire-related deaths, according to a 2019/20 fires analysis. This makes them a core focus for fire safety professionals as we strive to improve fire safety awareness and reduce the number of fires and subsequent injuries and deaths.
In this fire safety guide, we will look at the leading causes of fires in domestic properties and ways to prevent fires from occurring. In addition to fire prevention, we will address more broadly applicable solutions for containing and putting out fires.
(The national fire statistics used in this article have been taken from the “Detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services, England, April 2019 to March 2020”. These statistics were last updated on October 19th 2020 at the time of writing this article.)
Residential Cooking Fires
National statistics of fires attended by fire and rescue services in England show that cooking appliances were the biggest source of ignition for accidental dwelling fires. They were responsible for almost half (48%) of accidental residential fires and 14% of residential fire-related fatalities.
Cooking fires are of particular concern as they are often grease fires. Grease fires occur when fat or oil becomes too hot and ignites. Grease fires are not as easy to put out as other fires and can spread before you can extinguish them.
To extinguish a grease fire, cover it with a metal pan lid. To do this while the fire is still manageable, you will need to catch it earlier, so it is crucial never to leave cooking unattended. To further improve fire safety in the kitchen, keep a chemical fire extinguisher accessible.
High temperatures and exposed flames are common in kitchens, so you must be extra vigilant of your surroundings. You must manage flammable materials(such as dish towels) and keep them away from open flames.
Fires From Electrical Appliances
Electrical appliances are also a leading cause of accidental dwelling fires. 34% of these fires resulted from misusing equipment and appliances, and 15% of causes were categorised as “faulty appliances and leads”.
One way to reduce the risk of electrical appliance-related fires is to turn off lights and appliances at the wall at night. This includes not charging devices overnight. In addition to this, avoid overloading sockets and keep flammable materials away from electrical sources.
Smoking Related Fires
Smoking-related fires are far less common than electrical appliance fires and cooking-related incidents. However, they a disproportionately deadly. Despite smokers’ materials only causing 7% of domestic fires, those fires are responsible for 23% of deaths from accidental dwelling fires.
To prevent fires from smoking, do not smoke in bed and avoid sofas and armchairs - it is best to smoke outside. Regardless of where you smoke, always ensure your cigarettes are put out and disposed of properly. Use ashtrays which do not tip over, and avoid balancing cigarettes on the edge of the ashtray as they can fall as they burn away. Always stub out cigarettes and carefully empty ashtrays ensuring smoking materials are extinguished and cold first.
Preventing The Spread Of Fires
Whilst every measure should be taken to prevent a fire, if one does break out, it is important that you have taken the right precautions to limit and slow the spread.
Fire stopping and prevention is key to reducing injuries and fatalities when a fire breaks out. It reduces and slows the spread of a fire, making it easier to extinguish. It helps provide more time for a safe evacuation and keeps exit routes accessible.
One of the best ways to contain a fire is by installing fire doors. Though often thought of as a fire safety measure for commercial buildings, residential fire doors are also incredibly valuable. In fact, in residential properties, doors from a habitable room leading to a stairwell must be fire rated. (This includes loft conversions which add a floor to two-storey properties.)
Install Fire Alarms
Fire alarms and smoke detectors are essential. Installing fire alarms is a great start, but for optimal safety, you must consider the types of smoke alarms you use and where you position them. Different types of alarms are better at detecting various types of fires and are, therefore, best positioned where those fires are most likely to occur, providing the earliest possible warning of a fire. We discuss this in more depth in our guide to fire alarms - “5 Things To Consider When Choosing A Fire Alarm”
Speak With Fire-Stopping Experts
To learn more about improving your home’s fire safety, speak with London Fire Solutions. LFS are a team of accredited fire safety professionals providing fire safety solutions, including installation, repair and maintenance services for fire doors and smoke alarms.
Get in touch with a fire-stopping professional to learn more.
Learn More About Fire Safety
To learn more about fire safety and how you can protect your home and yourself, visit our blog. We recommend starting with these articles: