Please Note: This Article is 8 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

It’s a sound we all dread, but one that’s still worryingly common in the UK – being woken at night by the shrill screech of a fire alarm, or even the eerie near-silent crackle of fire. It’s not a situation any homeowner or property landlord wants to be faced with as the effects can be catastrophic, with a large financial cost – as well as a potential human cost too.

New statistics were released in 2014, showing the current trends in both accidental and deliberate fires across Great Britain. The data was enormously comprehensive, and showed some really interesting and useful trends for everyone from homeowners to commercial landlords. Read the key takeaway points from Fire Seals Direct below:

While current figures have shown a great reduction since a peak 10 years ago, there were still almost 200,000 reported fires in Great Britain last year – read on for our in-depth analysis, and find out what the risks in your area might be.

Total Number of Fires:

This is the main data we’re interested in – fires in Britain hit a peak about ten years ago, topping out at over 570,000 fires in 2003/4. Since then, the decline has been pretty steady and consistent with just over 270,000 fires in 2012 – almost a 50% reduction in just under 10 years.

Causes of accidental fires in residential dwellings:

It’s accidental fires, rather than deliberate acts of arson, which account for a majority of fires in Great Britain – so what are the causes behind them? Appliances seem consistently to be the number one culprit, with the misuse of appliances and faulty appliances combined accounting for almost 20,000 fires last year.

Non-residential building fires:

But what about fires outside of the home – where are the risks here? Non-residential fires only make up a small percentage of the total fires, but broken down we can see that retail, distribution and catering properties present the bigger risk. These top three made up around 8,000 fires in Great Britain last year, with schools and construction sites being the least likely to experience fire.

Cost Of Fires

So what are the consequences of this large number of fires? Despite the downward trend over the last 10-15 years, the knock on financial cost is still considerably high, with the most recent government figures released (in 2011) showing the cost standing at more than £3.2bn.

While the data varies from region to region, which you can select in the graph above, the overall leading cost is that of property damage. The speed at which fire spreads, the structural damage it can do and the loss of possessions or assets really hammers home that it’s not just prevention that’s important – it’s management of fire.

Is the alarm raised soon enough? Does your property have measures in place to contain the spread of fire? All of this is vital to minimising the overall cost – the sooner this happens throughout the country, the sooner we’ll see a reduction in cost of fires.

Causes of Fatal Casualties in Fires:

It’s a sad fact of fires, particularly those in residential dwellings, that there’s not just the risk of casualties but also fatalities. While the current trend is seeing a downward turn in fatal casualties, these latest figures show a consistent and worryingly high trend of smoke inhalation being the leading cause of fatal casualties.

Latest government research has shown that around one-third of fires broke out in a residential building, such as a home or an apartment building, where there was no fire alarm – and these properties accounted for 65% of the total deaths. This really demonstrates the importance of proper notification of fires, as well as ensuring fire and smoke can’t spread too easily.

If you’re looking to improve your property’s ability to contain and withstand a fire, as well as raise the alarm as soon as possible then it’s important to focus on equipment you can add and improvements you can make.

Article Courtesy of:

Further Reading on Government Fire Statistics can be found here

Please Note: This Article is 8 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


  1. Interesting that faulty appliances have been a fairly consistent cause of fires during the whole period. But now we are going to be expected to run more of them unsupervised while we sleep – because that is the main aim of smart meters, to get people to shift usage and the only main load that can be shifted like that is the likes of dishwashers, washing machines, and driers.

    Apart from the antisocial aspect (I\’d be well p***ed off if the neighbours ran a washing machine at night), when appliances go wrong, the consequences are likely to be worse if people are asleep.

  2. Really interesting post; it\’s really positive to see fire rates down so low but the overall costs are still enormous. I agree with Simon that it\’s interesting to see appliance misuse consistently the number one factor for accidental fires in the home. I think a lot of it is to do with leaving things running at night (tumble driers, computers, chargers which use a transformer plug which gets hot etc.), as well as poor education on homeowners/tenants parts with regards to overloading sockets.

    It\’s unbelievable how many dangerous setups of extension lead chains I\’ve seen in properties, running an incredible amount of appliances from one socket. You can get away with low power things like lamps and phone chargers, but as soon as you start adding kettles, toasters and microwaves into the mix (these high-power devices) then you get a recipe for disaster.

    More outlets in properties and better education on overloading outlets – not enough people realise that an extension lead isn\’t this magic electricity tree you can abuse!


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