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19 March 2012
More than a million homes in England do not have a smoke alarm, fire service leaders have warned.
A public opinion poll, commissioned by the Local Government Association ahead of its annual fire conference this week, revealed that seven per cent of people in England did not have a smoke alarm in their home.
Separate analysis by the LGA suggests that this equates to an estimated 1.5 million homes in England.
Fire and rescue service leaders are now urging householders to ensure their home is not a potential 'fire death trap' by making sure there is a working alarm fitted.
More than one in three fires attended by fire crews are in buildings which do not have an alarm, official statistics show. Firefighters have also raised concerns that even in homes where alarms are present, they are not being properly checked. Guidance issued by the Government recommends people to carry out weekly tests.
But the results of an opinion poll carried out by Comres on behalf of the LGA last weekend reveals that only one in eight people test their alarms as regularly as they should do. The poll found that:
The survey also revealed that people aged between 18 and 24 were nearly twice as likely as older people to say they do not have a working smoke alarm in their home.
Cllr Brian Coleman, Chairman of the LGA's Fire Services Management Committee, said: “It is nothing less than shocking that more than a million homes in England do not have a smoke alarm installed.
“A working smoke alarm can make the difference between life and death and should be seen as every bit as essential as a lock on the front door.
“More than 300 people still die in fires every year. People who do not have a working alarm are putting themselves and others at risk.
“Smoke alarms are available for free in many areas and most DIY shops sell them for a few pounds.
“We would urge anyone who hasn't got one fitted already to make sure they are not needlessly putting themselves at risk of the death and destruction fire can cause by getting in touch with their local fire authority and requesting a home safety check.”
1. ComRes surveyed 1785 adults in England online between 9 and 11 March 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in England. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data can be downloaded at: http://www.comres.co.uk
2. The estimated number of households without a smoke alarm has been calculated based on the fact that seven per cent of respondents did not have a smoke alarm in their house. The most recent DCLG household projections estimated that in 2008 there were 21.7 million households in England; 1.5 million houses is seven per cent of this figure rounded to the nearest 500,000. DCLG household projections can be found at: (http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/2033household1110)
3. Smoke alarms were absent from the fire area in 37 per cent of dwelling fires (16,400 fires) in 2010/11 Of the total of 306 dwelling fires fatalities in the Great Britain that year, 112 (37 per cent) of these fatalities were in fires where there was no smoke alarm present, and a further 76 fatalities (25 per cent) where a smoke alarm was present but did not operate. Figures from London Fire Brigade last year show that 51 per cent of homes in London that had a fire had no smoke alarmhttp://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/monitorq1q42011
4. Government guidance advises people to test smoke alarms once a week: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/InYourHome/FireSafety/DG_071751
5. The Local Government Association Annual Fire Conference and Exhibition 2012 takes place on Tuesday 20 March and Wednesday 21 March at the Highcliff Marriott Hotel, St Michael's Road, Westcliff, Bournemouth. Over two days, Government Minister Bob Neill MP, fire authority chairmen and chief officers, top councillors and leading lights in the fire industry will come together to hear from the foremost experts and thinkers in the field. The full agenda is available at: http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/events/-/journal_content/56/10161/16924/EVENT-TEMPLATE
6. People can find contact details for their local fire and rescue service by entering their postcode here: http://www.cfoa.org.uk/frs?postcode=