Number of Suffolk fire casualties up 62%

Field fires contributed to the rise in 'secondary' fires in Suffolk in 2018. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Field fires contributed to the rise in 'secondary' fires in Suffolk in 2018. Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

The number of people injured in fires in Suffolk last year has soared by 62% – with numbers nearly double what they were five years ago.

Figures for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service revealed that there were 122 casualties from fires in 2018/19 - well up on 75 the year before, and nearly double the 64 recorded in 2013/14.

Those numbers do not include deaths - of which there were four in Suffolk last year - but span minor injuries to life-threatening ones.

But despite the big increase, fire chiefs say it is not as a result of more fire incidents.

A spokesman from the service said: "The number of fire injuries in the current report is higher than previous years, but this does not necessarily indicate a spike in the number of fire incidents.

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"The definition of a fire injury includes casualties who receive serious injuries, but also those who are assessed at the scene as a precaution and given the all-clear.

"We have also recently adopted a more robust system for recording fire injuries, which increases the number we report. This supports officers to provide more bespoke prevention and protection advice in the future.

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"Our prevention and protection teams continually assess such data to make Suffolk a safe place.

"They work every day with schools, businesses and communities, providing services such as 'safer home visits' to vulnerable residents.

"Preventing incidents is always our objective, but this is a good opportunity to remind people to check their smoke alarms on a weekly basis."

According to the report being presented to Suffolk County Council's audit committee next week, the ambition remains to "achieve zero fire deaths and reduce the number of casualties to as few as possible" through its fire prevention and safety work.

The four fire-related deaths recorded last year is in line with the 4.4 average of the five years prior to that.

Figures for the number of fires recorded remained broadly static for 'primary' fires - fires in buildings or vehicles or ones which involve casualties - with 881 recorded last year compared to 824 the year before.

The number of 'secondary' fires (grassland, wasteland, derelict buildings and chimneys) had increased by 28%, largely because of the spate of field fires in the summer of 2018.

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