London’s fire service is urging carers and social workers to be alert to the risk of fire after new figures revealed a third of those who died in accidental fires last year were receiving care services.
Of the 31 people who died in accidental fires last year, eight had a home care package while two victims died in fires at care homes.
According to the London Fire Brigade, over half of Londoners who die in fires are over 60. They also share a number of common characteristics, such as being smokers, suffering limited physical mobility or impaired cognitive ability.
The Office for National Statistics predicts the number of people over 80 in the UK is expected to double to 6million by 2030, potentially increasing the number of people most at risk.
As part of its fire prevention work, the London Fire Brigade is asking care workers to get in touch if they notice vital early warning signs, such as burn marks on carpets or a smoke alarm that has run out of battery.
The call comes as the Brigade hosts a summit bringing together the key players in the UK care and fire professions to explore ways to reduce the number of fires and fire deaths involving older and at risk Londoners.
One solution “strongly” favoured by the Brigade is the installation of sprinklers in residential care homes which it estimates would cost around £1,500 to £2,000 for a pair of rooms.
Rita Dexter, the Brigade’s Deputy Commissioner, said: “Care staff do a fantastic job of supporting people within our communities and we want to work with them to identify and potentially save those most vulnerable from dying in a tragic fire.
“We also want to see all residential care homes fitted with sprinklers. The number of care home fires that firefighters attend is clear evidence that builders, developers, local authorities and private providers need to stop ignoring their benefits.”
The Brigade offers a free home fire safety visit which includes fitting free smoke alarms where needed and advice on preventing fires and how to escape should a fire break out.