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UK house fire statistics

This article was updated on June 21 2021.

A fire in the home can occur at any time, without warning. Even with the best precautions in place, no property is immune from the risks of fire and the often irreversible devastation and heartbreak it can cause.

The following UK 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.

All data is sourced from official 2019/20 fire statistics data tables on the UK Government website, the most up-to-date data available at the time of publishing.

How many fires are there in the UK each year?

There were 35,016 dwelling fires in the UK in 2019/20, 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.

In terms of breakdown by country:

  • There were 28,503 dwelling fires attended in England in 2019/20, which works out at 506 fires per 1 million people
  • There were 4,886 dwelling fires attended in Scotland in 2019/20, which works out at 894 fires per 1 million people
  • There were 1,627 dwelling fires attended in Wales in 2019/20, which works out at 516 fires per 1 million people

While England may have had the most house fires in total, Scotland has the most house fires on average, based on the size of its population.

How many deaths are caused by fire each year in the UK?

There were 285 fire-related deaths in the UK in 2019/20, according to the government statistics. 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?

Cooking appliances account for almost half (48%) of all accidental house fires.

The most common causes of accidental house fires in the UK in 2019/20 were as follows:

  • Cooking appliances: 12,295
  • Smokers’ materials: 1,796
  • Other electrical appliances: 3,145
  • Electrical distribution: 3,081
  • Candles: 799
  • Space heating appliances: 778
  • Central and water heating appliances: 256
  • Cigarette lighters: 192
  • Matches: 169
  • Blowlamps, welding and cutting equipment: 116
  • Other / Unspecified: 2,857

Chart showing the most common causes of house fires in the UK in 2019/20

What percentage of fires are caused by people?

67% (17,006) of accidental dwelling fires in the UK in 2019/20 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% (6,436) of accidental dwelling fires in the UK in 2019/20 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 8% 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 7am.

In 2019/20, the daily rate of house fires in the UK was highest in April (82) and lowest in August (71).

How many fires in the UK are deliberate?

Of the 35,016 dwelling fires attended by UK fire and rescue services in 2019/20, approximately 8% (2,971) were started deliberately.

There were 56 fatalities in England in the same year caused by deliberate fires, and a further 1,025 casualties.

What are UK Fire response times?

The average response time to dwelling fires in England in 2019/20 was 7 minutes 45 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 2019/20 are shown below:

  • Metropolitan: 6m 35s
  • Non-metropolitan: 8m 44s
  • Predominantly urban: 6m 55s
  • Significantly rural: 8m 52s
  • Predominantly rural: 9m 23s

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 (24%) of all house fires in 2019/20.

  • Alarm Present and raised the alarm: 45%
  • Alarm Present but did not raise alarm: 11%
  • Alarm Present but did not operate: 20%
  • Alarm Absent: 25%

In the same year, there were 199 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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