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Smoking, Alcohol and Poor Housekeeping Major Factors in Dorset Fires


7:37am 5th March 2014

Seven fatal factors have been found to link most deaths from house fires in Dorset and across the South West.

88 people lost their lives between 2008 and 2013 in the region.

Fire services have now been looking at key factors that played a part.

They are mental health and poor housekeeping.

Smoking, alcohol and drugs - both prescription and legal also play a part.

Having limited mobility is another key factor - but the most common one was people who lived alone.

Group Manager Andy Fox, Fire Investigation Manager for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said: "The facts show that accidental fires in the home affect those most vulnerable and all too often these people are already known to other agencies. All the agencies involved have to work much more closely together to identify and then help those most at risk from dying in a fire."

HM Coroner Ian Arrow, who endorsed the research work, said: "The identification of the seven factors in home fire deaths will prove invaluable in identifying high risk individuals, who would benefit from inter-agency intervention."

The research work was undertaken by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) South West Fire Investigation Group. The research also identified the following facts:

-Over 60% of female victims were aged over 65, compared to just 36% of male victims
-The average age of a male victim was 56 years compared to 68 years for a female victim
-Smokers' materials were the most common source of ignition, which resulted in 20 fatalities throughout the region
-In 61 of the 88 fatal cases (69%), a smoke detector was either not present or failed to raise the alarm
-Of the 88 cases examined in the study, at least 29 were known to other agencies.

Andy added: "Dorset Fire and Rescue Service can visit the homes of vulnerable people to provide advice and appropriate equipment to reduce the risk of fire. These visits are called FREE Home Safety Checks. We would urge organisations which work with people affected by any of the seven factors identified, to contact Dorset Fire and Rescue to find out how we can help."

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