Kitchen fires biggest cause as Hartlepool sees slight rise in household blazes during covid pandemic

Home cooking and kitchen appliances appear to be the biggest reason for accidental house fires in Hartlepool after the borough saw a slight rise in residential blazes during the first ten months of the pandemic.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 10:50 am
Cleveland Fire Brigade.
Cleveland Fire Brigade.

Figures show Cleveland Fire Brigade is performing above national averages in seeing a reduction in deliberate fires and carrying out work to protect residents in their homes.

But while there has been a significant overall drop in incidents, including a fall in the number of deliberate fires since the start of the first national lockdown, there has been an increase in accidental house fires.

A meeting of the Cleveland Fire Authority Audit and Governance Committee heard the brigade has responded to 6,380 incidents from April 2020 to January 31 this year, a reduction of 13% compared to last year.

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Tim Graham, head of risk and performance at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said they have also received comparative information for the first six months of the year, showing how they compare to other services.

He said the average reduction across all fire and rescue services is 6%, so Cleveland has seen a drop which is ‘significantly higher’ than the national average.

In terms of deliberate fires, all areas across Cleveland showed a reduction in the period from April to the end of January this year.

Hartlepool saw a 13% reduction in deliberate fires, with incidents dropping to 444, and there being 69 less deliberate fires in the region.

Meanwhile Stockton-on-Tees saw a 20% reduction, recording 490 incidents, Middlesbrough saw an 18% reduction, with 943 deliberate fires recorded, and Redcar and Cleveland suffered 654 incidents, a drop of 27%.

Overall Cleveland Fire Brigade saw 2,531 deliberate fires during this period, which is a reduction of 34% or 641 incidents, and Mr Graham said again they are performing better than national averages.

He said: “If we look at the national information, the average reduction in deliberate fires across the country is 11% in the first six months of this year.

“In the brigade over the equivalent period there was a 25% reduction in the number of deliberate fires, so we’ve actually been significantly more successful than other brigades in the country in reducing the numbers of deliberate fires in the current year.”

Of the 2,531 deliberate fires, 87% of these were secondary fires, including incidents involving rubbish and grassland fires, with just 13% primary fires, which are those involving buildings or vehicles.

Cleveland did see an increase in accidental dwelling fires from April to January however, with all but one area seeing a rise.

Hartlepool saw accidental house fires rise by six to 23, a rise of 35%, while Stockton-on-Tees saw incidents rise by three to 38, a 9% increase.

Middlesbrough saw accidental dwelling fires rise by 10%, or four incidents, to 45, however Redcar and Cleveland saw them drop one to 23.

Mr Graham added the main causes of the accidental house fires are consistent with previous years, with 26% being cooking related, and electrical fires and radiated heat each accounting for 19% of incidents.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Cleveland Fire Brigade has been continuing to carry out home fire safety visits where possible to protect residents, especially those who are vulnerable.

Mr Graham noted 11,944 home fire safety visits were carried out between April 2020 and January 2021, and although this was a drop of 20%, they still performed better than other fire and rescue services,

He said this comes as the comparative national data shows the average reduction in visits was 49.5%.

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