CONCLUSIONS OF THE STUDY OF FIRE VICTIMS IN SPAIN IN 2019

  • 76% of the deaths (125) occurred at home.
  • In absolute terms, Andalusia was the Autonomous Community with the highest number of fatalities (37 deaths), followed by Catalonia (25 deaths) and Valencia with 17 death victims.
  • More deaths occurred between October and March (74%) than during the rest of the year.
  • 81 fatalities are over 65 years of age, representing 49.1%.  

More fires and more death victims. This is the balance left by 2019, a year in which a total of 165 people lost their lives as a result of a fire. Of these, 125 died in their homes, revealing that 2019 saw a significant increase: 34% compared to 2018. If we analyze the data provided by this study since 2010, 2019 is exactly at the same level as the average number of deaths over the last 10 years, which is 165.

During the past year there has also been an increase in the average daily number of fires in the home: 54 compared to 42 in 2018, 28% more, as well as an increase in the number of firefighter interventions, 19,661 compared to 15,387 in 2018

Out of the total number of fires at home in 2019, 6 out of 10 victims were men (64%). The causes of death included intoxication, which affected 68%, and burns, which claimed the lives of 29%. The main causes of fires in homes in 2019 were electrical incidents representing 23% of total deaths (taking into account that the death cause is unknown in 44% of cases); heat-producing appliances (radiators and braziers, among others), with 18 victims; and in third place the fire was caused by smoking (9 people).

This is the latest data on fire-related casualties which was disclosed this morning in Madrid by Fundación MAPFRE and the Spanish Professional Firefighters‘ Association (APTB) within the framework of the 2019 Study of Fire Victims in Spain, carried out by both entities in order to publicize accurate information on the number of death victims by fire and to work on preventive actions.

113 DEATH VICTIMS BETWEEN OCTOBER AND MARCH

This report, the only study to bring together updated and accurate information on these types of incidents in Spain, highlights that during the six coldest months of the year, from October to March, 68% of deaths took place, namely 113 victims, of which a total of 92 occurred in the home. The worst months were January with 23 deaths and November with 17.

ELDERLY PEOPLE

A rise in the number of elderly people living alone and certain bad heating habits mainly due to the use of braziers, heaters without maintenance, unprotected chimneys and obsolete electrical appliances, meant that almost 49.1% of those who died from fires in the home in 2019, involved people over the age of 65.

SMOKE DETECTORS IN THE LIVING ROOM AND BEDROOM

The living room continues to be the part of the home where the greatest number of fires occur (52%), closely followed by the bedroom (30%) and the kitchen (15%). Bearing in mind that 76% of fatal accidents in 2019 occurred in the home, and that 68% of deaths were produced by smoke inhalation, it is very important to install smoke detectors in houses, as they will warn you if there is a fire.

In Spain, the use of fire detectors does not even reach 10% of households, while in neighboring countries, such as France, Germany or Great Britain, the figures exceed 90%.

VICTIMS IN THE LAST DECADE

The net decrease between 2010 and 2019 is 27 fatalities, a drop of 14% in the number of deaths from fire and explosions over the last decade in Spain.

Since 2010, the fact that people over the age of 64 are by far the most at risk of dying from fire, has been constantly repeated.

From 2010 to 2013, deaths from burns and intoxication were very similar; from 2014, the latter, smoke and toxic gases produced during a fire, stand out as the highest causes of death.

FIGURES BY REGIONS

By Autonomous Communities, and with regard to the total data on fires in all types of circumstances, the five with the highest rate of deaths per million inhabitants in 2019 (in total) were: Extremadura (6.56), Cantabria (5.16), Castilla y León (4.58), Aragón (4.55) and Galicia (4.45). On the contrary, the regions with the lowest fatality rates in homes per million inhabitants were: Ceuta, Melilla and La Rioja that did not register any deaths.

In absolute terms, Andalusia was the autonomous community with the highest number of fatalities for the fourth consecutive year (37 deaths), followed by Catalonia (25 deaths) and Valencia with 17 fatalities.

2020 PROVISIONAL FIGURES

There has been a significant drop in fire deaths during the COVID-19 confinement.March and April recorded up to an 80% drop in the number of deaths from fires in homes over the average of the previous four years. The return to normality also brings us back to past figures.

Thus, in March the number of people who died as a result of fire throughout Spain fell by 56% compared to the average for the previous four years (16 deaths), a percentage that reaches a decrease of up to 80% (11.5 deaths on average) in terms of victims in homes.

In April, the numbers balance out somewhat more, with a fall of 43% over the average of the previous four years (12.3 deaths), and approximately 65% of deaths at home (8.5 deaths on average). The May data, however, was in line with previous years.

It should be noted that these are provisional figures, pending confirmation, in the coming year, by the Fire Services and the Institutes of Forensic Medicine throughout Spain.

The reason behind the drops in figures for March and April could be that, due to the confinement and the the state of alarm, the presence of the entire family at home for practically 24 hours a day would have drastically reduced recklessness, on one hand, and mistakes on the other.

MORE EDUCATION, MORE PREVENTION

Fundación MAPFRE and the  Spanish Professional Firefighters’ Association (APTB) are launching the 15th edition of Fire Prevention Week, an initiative that aims to help the population identify risks and know how to act in the event of a fire.

To this end, numerous activities will be organized on line, in collaboration with Autonomous Communities, Provincial Councils, Town Halls and different Fire Services in the national territory, with the aim of disseminating guidelines to make citizens aware of the risks of fires that may occur in their homes and how to avoid them.

Once again, schools are the main target of this campaign in which the role of teachers regarding the safety of students and themselves is particularly relevant.

In addition to Spain, Fundación MAPFRE carries out fire prevention activities in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.

You can download the whole report here: www.fundacionmapfre.org