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Fires: Death

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent steps have been taken to reduce the numbers of accident-related fire deaths. (235797)

The Government are committed to reducing preventable fire deaths and injuries from fire. Fire deaths in the home in the UK are at their lowest since the 1950s, and the long-term trend is downwards. In 1997 in England, 362 people died in house fires, compared to the current figure of 233 fire deaths in the home in 2006.

The Fire Kills campaign is one of our key strands of work to drive down deaths and injuries from fire. The range of public awareness media campaigns run by the Government have sent powerful messages to the public about the importance of fire safety in the home, in particular the importance of having a working smoke alarm installed. Ownership of smoke alarms in England now stands at 80 per cent. of households and we are seeking to raise it further as evidence suggests that those without alarms are often in those groups who are most at risk from fire. The next media campaign will commence on 26 December 2008 and will run for one month promoting the key message of the importance to test and maintain smoke alarms.

The Government have also invested £25 million in grants during 2004-08 to Fire and Rescue Authorities to enable them to purchase smoke alarms to install in domestic dwellings. This pump-priming funding stream has resulted in just under 2 million Home Fire Risk Check visits to households in England, with over 2.4 million smoke alarms being installed in properties at higher risk from fire.