Agenda item


To consider Report CFO/022/21 of the Chief Fire Officer, providing Authority Members with:


1)    A briefing of the last business year activity in relation to accidental dwelling fires and fatalities. 


2)    A briefing regarding the trend analysis of fatalities in accidental dwelling fires over a fifteen-year period.


3)    An assurance that Prevention activities are targeted in line with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) expectations for efficiency and effectiveness.


Members considered Report CFO/022/21 of the Chief Fire, concerning:

·       insight into the fatal fires responded to by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) during 2022/2021;

·       a detailed analysis of the fatal fires responded to by MFRS as a result of accidental dwelling fires over a fifteen-year period; and

·       the approach adopted by MFRS in order to reduce the impact of such incidents on the communities of Merseyside. 


A presentation was given to Members by GM (Group Manager) Mark Thomas about the report, highlighting the amount of fatalities from accidental dwelling fires have looked over the last 15 years.  In 1992-93 fatalities were in the high teens, then they came down in 1999.  In 2015-16 there were multiple fire deaths and sadly 2020-21 saw 7 deaths.  The over 60s age group was more prominent, out of the 111 people who have died in the last 15 years and the 45-49 year age group which was a high figure was from deprived areas.  The main reason for fires starting was due to carelessly disregarding smoking materials and staff have focused getting a message to communities to ‘not smoke upstairs in their homes’ and to now ‘stop smoking’ altogether.  Information was given to Members about how deprived areas in England have more accidental dwelling fires and were told that by focusing on these areas it would have a significant impact on the amount of accidental dwelling fires. 

Members were advised that it has been a challenging year for home safety during the Covid19 pandemic and that MFRS has been conducting risk assessments to go back into people’s homes to promote Home Fire Safety Checks (HFSC). 


Members thanked GM Thomas for his presentation and a question was asked in relation to the case studies - does MFRS receive information for people living alone from any other agencies such as Social Services, as MFRS already has such a good partnership with the NHS (National Health Service).  Members were advised that the organisation has multiple partner agencies that they are engaged with to identify vulnerable people and that it can be challenging for MFRS to make that intervention.  MFRS focus’ on all vulnerable people including over 65’s and those that live alone. 


With regards to 6 out of the 7 fatalities receiving HFSCs (Home Fire Safety Checks), Members questioned if MFRS are targeting the right people.  Due to the main result of these fatalities being caused was by smoking material and possibly alcohol, Members asked if people with mental health conditions should be pursued and if we can liaise with General Practitioners for this information or what could we do in the future. 

Members were advised that MFRS will be moving towards identifying people with mental health conditions as this is a factor involving fatalities and were told that this is a national piece of work.  Data will be examined and a predictive prevention strategy will feature mental health in the future. 


Members praised the service for the way staff care for any vulnerable people and added that they go above and beyond their duties. 


Members mentioned that a lot of people who use food banks are vulnerable for various reasons and asked if the fire service would get referrals from there. 

Members were advised that this is a fantastic point and that it is already done by district officers. 

Members suggested that the anti-social behaviour team staff could gather more information from people in deprived areas. 

Members were informed of some statistics to reassure them that MFRS has adopted good strategy’s.  Although this year saw 7 fire deaths and 799 accidental dwelling fires occur, last year there were 5 fatalities and 928 accidental dwelling fires, and the year before that there were over 100 accidental dwelling fires.  Injuries or near misses have reduced from 90t o 59.  Members were re-assured that MFRS is making progress over the years. 


Members declared that they felt re-assured from all the work MFRS does and added that as a member of society they will spread the word to their communities, especially the “stop smoking” message. 


Members asked how MFRS got information of vulnerable people being discharged from hospitals and were informed that MFRS receive this from partner agencies and it was stressed that this is a high priority. 


Members were pleased to hear that there were no deaths on the Wirral this year but queried if there was a reason why the death rate was higher in the past (as per the Fatalities in Accidental Dwelling Fires between 2006/7 to 2020/21 graph).  Members were advised that the graph makes the fatalities look high but that the drawing in fact only goes up by individual numbers, so it only takes 1 death to make it look like a much bigger fatality rate.  Over the years extensive Home Fire Safety work has been completed on the Wirral and partnerships have been formed, ensuring work to keep communities safe across the whole of Merseyside will continue. 


A query was raised by Members about MFRS being aware of new oxygen suppliers and Members were assured that MFRS are aware and that they work closely with oxygen supply companies. 


Members asked about social media being used to get safety messages to communities and were informed that MFRS regularly uses social media for this purpose. 


Members resolved that:


The content of the appended reports, be noted. 


Supporting documents: