22/03/2005

Fire costs economy £7.7 billion

Fire cost the economy in England and Wales £7.7 billion in 2003, according to a new report.

'The Economic Costs of Fire' report found that direct losses from fire – such as death, injury, absence and damage to property – amounted to £3.3 billion. However, the report said that most of the costs could be attributed to risk reduction measures, such as insurance administration and fire prevention measures, which amounted to £2.8 billion, with the cost of providing fire cover costing around £1.7 billion.

The report also found that a domestic fire is one of the most expensive incidents that can happen to any household, with an average cost of £25,300.

The average cost of a fire in a business property was found to be £58,100, including the economic cost of injuries and fatalities.

Arson attacks were found to cost an estimated £1.9 billion – rising to £2.8 billion if fire cover was included.

The report also said that the cost of fire had risen by £1.5billion since 2000, due to a number of factors including rising property prices and fire cover premiums.

It also reported that false alarms and non-building fires to which the Fire and Rescue Service were called out, cost an estimated £1.4billion.

Commenting on the report, Fire and Rescue Service Minister Nick Raynsford said: "Fire prevention must be the way forward for a modern Fire and Rescue Service. The Government has invested heavily in the Service over this period, and I welcome the increase in business expenditure on fire protection. But the continuing loss of life and property remain cause for concern. That's why we will continue to work with the Fire and Rescue Service in our common aim to bring down the numbers of fires. We have already put in place a number of changes to help achieve this including placing a new statutory duty on fire and rescue authorities to promote fire safety and providing additional funding to help them achieve this."

(KmcA/MB)

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