Posted on 15/01/2016 in News 32 2016
Need for reliable fire statistics

Dominique Parisse, Plastics Europe (and previously with the French State fire and safety services), further developed the current inadequacies of fire statistics in Europe. ISO 17755-2, under development, is important to address this. This is a slow process, because it is necessary to start by agreeing terminology: in some countries, fire victims who die in hospital a few days after the fire are not counted as fire deaths.

ISO/TR 1775:2014 “Fire safety – Overview of national fire statistics practices” is available for 165€ at Different levels of report may be available after fires: firefighters onsite report, fire service specialist fire investigator’s report, external fire investigators (e.g. police, insurance), forensic. Both training and human resources are necessary to enable fire services to generate useable data on causes of fires, given the emotional and operational difficulties whenever a fire casualty is incurred. But in practice, mostly only the fire fighters’ reports are available, if that.

Despite unreliability of data, it is clear that fire deaths are falling in most countries worldwide, for example -17% in 19 EU states (for which data is available) over the period 2006 – 2010, but also that numbers of fires and deaths are very variable between different EU states. The limited statistics available show that both arson and smokers materials are significant causes of fire fatalities.

In discussion, participants also underlined the importance of space heaters in causing fires in winter in some countries, and also increasing use and fire risk from candles.

Stephen Grayson, Interscience London, underlined that the bigger the fire, the more smoke is generated so that statistics indicating that 70% of fire deaths result from smoke confirm that the key to reducing fire risk is to prevent and slow fire development.

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