Nine fire deaths in 'unique set of circumstances' as Tyne & Wear fatalities hit 16-year high
Tyne and Wear has suffered its highest number of fire deaths in a single year for more than a decade.
According to the latest figures, there were nine fatalities in blazes in the area in 2019/20, the most over a 12-month period since 2003/04.
But brigade bosses have insisted there so far been no common trends identified among the latest incidents, with a ‘unique set of circumstances’ contributing in each case..
“At the beginning of every year we begin with a target of zero fire deaths, which we strive to meet,” said Dave Leach, area manager for Service Delivery at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS).
“Sadly we have to report we have not achieved our target and have to report nine fatalities for 2019/20.”
Leach was speaking at a meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Policy and Performance Committee..
Official figures show there were five fire deaths in 2018/19 and just four in each of the previous two years before that (2017/18 and 2016/17).
According to Leach, two of the fatalities had previously had home safety checks and were receiving social care.
Another death related to a fire in a garage.
Northumbria Police confirmed this week the death of Mark Herron was no longer being treated as suspicious after the 53-year-old’s body was found in the remains of a garage in New Silksworth, Sunderland, following a blaze in February.
Richie Rickaby, the brigade’s area manager for Community Safety, said: “Sadly, we saw more fire-related deaths than usual during the last year, each incident with its own unique set of circumstances.
“Having closely reviewed each incident, we have not identified any common factors that could inform changes to our fire prevention strategy in the short term.
“We are conducting further analysis and research into these tragic events, and continuing to run regular safety campaigns; working with our partners to provide targeted advice for vulnerable groups.
“Every life lost to fire is a tragedy and we’re committed to keeping our communities safe.”
Tyne and Wear fire deaths by year (source: Home Office):
2001/02 – 8 2002/03 – 6 2003/04 – 11 2004/05 – 7 2005/06 – 7 2006/07 – 5 2007/08 – 8 2008/09 – 7 2009/10 – 4 2010/11 – 3 2011/12 – 3 2012/13 – 1 2013/14 – 5 2014/15 – 3 2015/16 – 2 2016/17 – 4 2017/18 – 4 2018/19 – 5 2019/20 – 9