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Fires: Elderly

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what recent assessment has been made of the vulnerability of older people to domestic fires; and if he will make a statement; (303376)

(2) what plans he has to reduce the number of deaths of older people caused by fires in domestic dwellings.

The Government are committed to reducing all fire deaths and use research and statistics to inform more effective targeting of fire safety messages. We are aware of the potential vulnerability of older people to domestic fire. The latest fire statistics (2007) show that over 50 per cent. of the fatalities in accidental dwelling fires were aged over 65.

Independent research, published in 2006, highlighted five key groups who were more vulnerable to fire and harder to reach with crucial messages, one of whom was older people. The Government’s Fire Kills campaign seeks to reduce fire deaths in older age groups through specifically targeting its television advertising at programmes that older people are likely to watch. The campaign recognises the importance of partnership working. We are pursuing a range opportunities with Help The Aged/Age Concern, the main suppliers of oxygen to hospital out-patients, and Bowls England, as a means to deliver fire safety messages to older people through their trusted communication channels.

Between 2004 and 2008, Government provided pump-priming funding of £25 million to fire and rescue services to deliver a programme of home fire risk checks. Firefighters target this free service to vulnerable groups in their communities, including older people and provide tailored fire safety advice and, where necessary, install free smoke alarms. Fire and rescue services continue to deliver this programme and funding is now available through the Revenue Support Grant Block Grant.