UK house fire statistics
Published November 14, 2019
Read time 4 mins
Find in this article:
The following fire statistics have been compiled to draw attention to the risks of house fires, the main causes of house fires, and when most house fires occur in the UK. This article was last updated in August 2022 and all figures are the most up-to-date at the time of publishing.
- There were 33,180 house fires in the UK in 2020/21
- Cooking appliances are the leading cause of house fires
- There were 311 fire-related deaths in the UK in 2020/21
- A third of house fire-related deaths are caused by smoker’s materials
- 8% of house fires are started deliberately
How many fires are there in the UK each year?
There were 33,180 dwelling (a house, flat, or another place of residence) fires in the UK in 2020/21, according to Home Office statistics. This is the lowest number on record. The highest number of fires attended by fire and rescue services on record in a calendar year is 71,082, occurring in 1999/00.
UK house fires per capita
England has the most house fires in total, while Scotland has the most house fires per capita. Wales, meanwhile, has the fewest house fires.
- House fires in England: There were 27,018 dwelling fires attended in England in 2020/21, which works out at 478 fires per 1 million people.
- House fires in Scotland: There were 4,661 dwelling fires attended in Scotland in 2020/21, which works out at 853 fires per 1 million people
- House fires in Wales: There were 1,501 dwelling fires attended in Wales in 2020/21, which works out at 474 fires per 1 million people
How many deaths are caused by fire each year in the UK?
There were 311 fire-related deaths in the UK in 2020/21. The highest number of deaths caused by fire occurred in 1985/86, when there were 967 fire-related fatalities.
What are the most common causes of house fires in the UK?
The most common causes of accidental house fires in the UK in 2020/21 were as follows.
1. Cooking appliances: 11,078 fires
Cooking appliances account for almost half (46%) of all accidental house fires and account for around 10% of deaths. Common sources of ignition include:
- Cookers & ovens
- Rings & hot plates
- Grills & toasters
2. Electrical distribution: 2,962 fires
Electrical distribution accounts for 12% of accidental house fires and 6% of deaths. Common sources of ignition include:
- Wiring, cabling & plugs
- Apparatus, batteries & generators
- Heating equipment
3. Domestic appliances: 2,152 fires
Other household appliances (not including cooking appliances or heating equipment) account for 9% of fires and 5% of deaths. Common sources of ignition include but are not limited to:
- Extractor fans
- Tumble dryers
- Washing machines
4. Smoking-related materials: 2,115 fires
Smoking materials including cigarette lighters account for around 9% of fires and 34% of deaths – the highest of all sources.
5. Matches and Candles: 1,032 fires
Matches and candles account for around 4% of fires and 4% of deaths.
6. Space heating appliances: 784 fires
House and space heating appliances account for 3% of house fires and 11% of deaths. Common sources of ignition include:
- Patio heating equipment
- Heaters & fires
- Other heating equipment
7. Electric lighting: 438 fires
Electrical lighting accounts for 2% of house fires. Common sources of ignition include:
- Fairy lights
- Fluorescent lights
- Spot lights
- Incandescent light bulbs
8. Central and water heating appliances: 217 fires
9. Blowlamps, welding and cutting equipment: 153 fires
10. Office equipment: 20 fires
What percentage of fires are caused by people?
66% (16,141) of accidental dwelling fires in the UK in 2020/21 were caused by human factors, such as bonfires going out of control, careless handling, cooking, negligent use of equipment or appliances, or playing with fire.
25% (6,123) of accidental dwelling fires in the UK in 2020/21 were caused by non-human factors, such as chimney fires, faulty equipment or appliances, faulty fuel supplies or faulty leads to equipment or appliances. The remaining 9% of fires were caused by other/unspecified factors, such as natural occurrences or overheating from an unknown source.
When do most house fires occur in the UK?
House fires can happen at any time of day but are most common between the hours of 6pm and 8pm. Fires happen least between the hours of 5am and 6am.
The daily rate of house fires in the UK is highest in May and lowest in August.
How many fires in the UK are deliberate?
Of the 33,180 dwelling fires attended by UK fire and rescue services in 2020/21, approximately 8% (2,728) were started deliberately.
There were 58 fatalities in England in the same year caused by deliberate fires, and a further 883 casualties.
What are UK Fire response times?
The average response time to dwelling fires by the UK Fire Service in 2020/21 was 7 minutes 36 seconds.
Naturally, response time differs depending on the location, with rural areas typically experiencing longer response times, and metropolitan areas experiencing shorter response times. Average response times for location types in England in 2020/21 are shown below:
- Metropolitan: 6m 26s
- Non-metropolitan: 8m 32s
- Predominantly urban: 6m 42s
- Significantly rural: 8m 37s
- Predominantly rural: 9m 11s
What percentage of house fires occur where a smoke alarm is not present?
Fires, where a smoke alarm was not present, accounted for a quarter (25%) of all house fires in 2020/21.
- Alarm Present and raised the alarm: 43%
- Alarm Present but did not raise alarm: 11%
- Alarm Present but did not operate: 21%
- Alarm Absent: 25%
In the same year, there were 129 fatalities in dwellings where a smoke alarm was not present, where a smoke alarm was faulty, or where a smoke alarm was present but did not operate or raise alarm.
Have you been impacted by a fire at your home? If so, please visit our fire insurance claims page to find out more about how Morgan Clark can help.
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