Fatal fires’ lack of smoke alarms

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Smoke alarms were missing in a third of fatal Yorkshire fires, according to results of a new academic study.

These new findings have prompted a fresh plea from fire chiefs in the region for people to fit the potentially life-saving devices, and to test them regularly.

The startling statistic is amongst several findings in, what is thought to be, the largest piece of research into fire deaths in Yorkshire ever published. In the last five years, 133 people have died in house fires in Yorkshire and Humber. Other findings in the report, led by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, include: the fact that early evening is the deadliest time of the day for fatal fires; nearly a third of all fire deaths are the result of arson; smoking is Yorkshire’s biggest killer in accidental fires, causing nearly half of all fatal blazes; men are almost twice as likely to die in house fires as women; an accidental fatal fire is more likely to start in the living room than any other room in the house.

SYFR assistant chief fire officer Martin Blunden, said: “It’s shocking that after decades of national and local advertising campaigns, and fire services fitting hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in people’s homes for free, people are still dying in house fires in Yorkshire where smoke alarms were not present.

“Our message to the public could not be clearer- fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them regularly.”

Officers hope the research will help fire and rescue services to better understand the causes of fatal fires and ways to prevent them.

The research is now expected to be extended nationally, with backing from the Chief Fire Officer’s Association.

Officer Blunden continued: “This study finally disproves popular public myths around house fires, including the idea that most fire deaths happen at night. Findings like this are invaluable in helping us to better target the safety advice we give to members of the public.”