A third of victims of accidental fires in London last year were receiving social care

Calls for closer working between fire and care professionals to address challenges of ageing population

Photo: Image Source: Jonathan Hordle, Rex Features

One in three people who died in accidental fires in London last year were in receipt of social care services, research published today by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has revealed.

Eight of the 31 victims of accidental fires had a home care package and a further two died in care home fires, the research found. The LFB said social care and fire professionals must work together more closely in order to cut fire deaths among vulnerable elderly people.

Deputy commissioner Rita Dexter, who was due to address the LFB’s first social care summit today, said the brigade wants to see more joint working in order to identify and safeguard people most at risk from fire. The LFB also wants residential care homes to be fitted with sprinkler systems.

“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,” Dexter 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.”

The LFB believes that the issue could worsen unless action is taken, as the UK’s population ages and the proportion of people living with mobility problems and dementia rises.

Its figures show that more than half of people killed in fires in the capital are over 60. Alongside risk-magnifying factors such as smoking and living alone, many of them have restricted physical mobility or cognitive impairments.

Data published last year by the Office for National Statistics predicted that the number of people aged 80 and above in the UK would more than double to six million by 2037.

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