UK house fire statistics

November 14, 2019 1:52 pm

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 information was sourced from the Home Office’s official fire statistics data tables page on the gov.uk website.

How many fires are there in the UK each year?

There were 37,740 dwelling fires in the UK in 2017/18, 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 30,813 dwelling fires attended in England in 2017/18, which works out at 554 fires per 1 million people
  • There were 5,310 dwelling fires attended in Scotland in 2017/18, which works out at 979 fires per 1 million people
  • There were 1,617 dwelling fires attended in Wales in 2017/18, which works out at 517 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 398 fire-related deaths in the UK in 2017/18, according to the government statistics. The highest number of deaths caused by fire occurred in 1985/86, when there were 967 fire-related fatalities. 

The majority of fire-related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation of the toxic gases produced by fires, rather than fire itself. In isolation, burns by fire accounted for a quarter of fatalities in 2017/18.

What are the most common causes of house fires in the UK?

The most common causes of accidental house fires in the UK according to official Home Office statistics are as follows:

  • Cooking appliances
  • Other electrical appliances
  • Electrical distribution
  • Smokers’ materials
  • Space heating appliances
  • Candles
  • Central and water heating appliances
  • Cigarette lighters
  • Matches
  • Blowlamps, welding and cutting equipment
Common causes of house fires in the UK
Chart showing the most common causes of house fires in the UK

When do most house fires occur in the UK?

House fires can happen at any time of day and at any time of year but are most common in December, and between the hours of 6pm and 8pm. Winter months naturally see an increase in chimney fires, particularly in December, January, and February. 

How many home fire deaths result from fires with no working smoke alarms?

Official UK smoke alarm statistics show that in 25% of dwelling fires attended in England in 2017/18, a smoke alarm was not present. In the same year, there were more than 200 fatalities in dwellings where a smoke alarm was not present, or was present but did not operate or raise alarm.

How many fires in the UK are deliberate?

Of the 37,740 dwelling fires attended by UK fire and rescue services in 2017/18, approximately 10% (3,919) were started deliberately. There were 58 fatalities in England in the same year caused by deliberate fires, and a further 1,186 casualties. 

What are UK Fire response times?

The average response time to dwelling fires in England in 2017/18 was 7 minutes 44 seconds.

Naturally, response time differs depending on the location, with rural areas typically experiencing longer response times, and metropolitan areas experiencing shorter response times. Response times for location types in England in 2017/18 are shown below:

  • Metropolitan: 6m 37s
  • Non-metropolitan: 8m 46s
  • Predominantly urban: 6m 54s
  • Significantly rural: 8m 55s
  • Predominantly rural: 9m 34s

For information about fire safety in the home, download this helpful guide or seek information from your local fire department.