For the first time ever London’s firefighters are telling smokers to quit, or risk dying in a fire.
The stark warning comes as the Brigade releases new London figures showing that a comparison between 2014/15 and 2015/16 highlighted a 25 per cent increase in smoking related fires and a 55 per cent increase in the number of people who died in those fires.
Smoking continues to be the largest cause of fatal fires and the third largest cause of accidental fires in the home.
Around four fires a day are linked to smoking, with around three people a week being injured. In London alone, on average at least one person every month is killed by a smoking related fire.
Almost a quarter of all smoking related fires in the home start in the bedroom, making it the most likely place for a smoking fire to start in the home.
Dave Brown, the London Fire Brigade’s Director of Operations, said:
“In the past we’ve shied away from telling people not to smoke, but the statistics speak for themselves so we’re joining health bosses in urging people to quit. The health impact of smoking is well documented, but many people don’t realise that smoking is the largest cause of fatal fires.
“Amongst the biggest mistakes people make is falling asleep with lit cigarettes, or they fail to dispose of cigarettes or matches properly, which can smoulder and cause fires.
“Ten people have died in fires in London caused by unsafe smoking this year, but you can easily take simple steps to ensure you don’t become another fire death statistic.”
Links between those most at risk of fire and those who suffer from the poorest health
The Brigade’s warning comes ahead of the launch of its first ever community health strategy, which will form part of its sixth London Safety Plan, expected to be rolled out in 2017, which aims to support health and social care providers in helping to keep people well.
The Brigade said that there are strong links between those most at risk of fire and those who suffer from the poorest health, including smokers.
The Brigade said that those most at risk from dying in smoking related fires are often vulnerable people like the elderly, those who have mobility problems or live alone. Fire chiefs are calling on those who manage specialised housing and assisted living accommodation to make it as safe as possible by taking steps like installing smoke alarms and sprinklers in the room where the person smokes.