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838 Fire investigation plays a key role in reducing fire deaths
  1. Esa Kokki
  1. Pelastusopisto, Finland


Background Fire deaths have been recorded in Finland since 1960. The annual average of fire deaths has been over 100 victims per year. The ministry of interior has a vision of less than 50 fire deaths per year. In 2007 fire departments decided to investigate all the fires causing injuries or fatalities.

Methods The results are based on national data collected by fire investigators of fire departments in co-operation with the police. Data are analysed by the descriptive statistics.

Results In 2007–2009, the average number of fire deaths was 100 persons per year. In 2010–2014, the average was 75 fire deaths per year. In proportion to the population the number of fire deaths is 14 persons per million inhabitants. Commonly, fatal fire starts in sparsely populated area in a single family house with no smoke detector. The most often cigarette ignites a furniture or interior in the living room in winter time. A typical victim is an elderly man who lives alone. Often victim is divorced with low-incomes. Normally, the victim does not react to fire because the use of alcohol has influenced his ability to function properly. There is seldom someone able to function present at the scene and the first attempts to extinguish fire are rarely made. By and large, a fatal fire is detected by a bystander who makes the emergency call.

Conclusions Some reasons for the reduction of fire deaths can be found. Standardised practice of fire investigation carried out by the fire departments has provided support to decision making. Reduction of fire deaths has been particularly affected by: legislative changes on cigarettes sold in Finland, legislative changes on smoke alarms, legislative obligation about fire safety risks among domestic services producing actors, and targeted operations in fire departments, including safety communication.

  • Fire investigation
  • fatal fire
  • fire death

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