Home Visits Significantly Prevent Fires, London Brigade Reports

Results released Aug. 22 by the UK's largest fire department show that disabled and older residents, among others, are 18 times less likely to have a fire after firefighters visit.

The London Fire Brigade published the results of new research indicating "vulnerable people" are 18 times less likely to have a fire if they receive a home fire safety visit from firefighters. It is the first study of its kind in London and evaluated the effects from 400,000 visits during the past six years. The key conclusion: About 5,000 fires have been prevented by these visits.

They are free visits, of course, and many U.S. fire departments offer similar visits. The firefighters provide life-saving information on how to prevent fires and install free smoke alarms where needed. "The majority of fires in the home are caused by cooking, cigarettes, and candles, so safety advice focuses on those issues, as well information on how to escape should a fire break out," the brigade's release stated. "Fire chiefs have identified that around 700,000 homes in London are more at risk from having a fire and specifically target their visits at them."

The brigade's "fire risk profile" said these population groups are affected by several of these risk factors:

  • Disability, especially impaired mobility
  • Visual and/or hearing impairments
  • Mental health problems
  • Intoxication by drugs and/or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Old age
  • Living alone

"The rate of accidental house fires reduced in this group of vulnerable people from 36 per 10,000 people who had not received a visit to only 2 per 10,000 people who had. The report supports the Brigade's targeted approach of using lifestyle profiling, alongside local knowledge and fire data to reach vulnerable people," it reported.

"This new research is evidence that the brigade's home fire safety visits is preventing thousands of fires and saving lives, particularly amongst some of the capital’s most vulnerable people. Joining forces with local councils and other partners has enabled the brigade to reach those most at risk. Home fires are devastating, so it's vital that this important work continues," said Sarah Hayward, chair of the London Fire Authority's Strategy Committee. "Londoners need to look out for friends and neighbors by following some simple fire safety advice. If you know someone who you think could be at risk of having a fire at home, please speak to them about arranging a free home fire safety visit – you may well save their life."

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