• About
  • Clients
  • Resources
  • News
  • Reasons Why People Choose Us
  • Birmingham & Midlands
  • Exeter & South West
  • Glasgow & Scotland
  • Leeds & North East
  • London
  • Manchester & North West
  • FAQ

UK House Fire FAQs & Statistics

5th May 2021

House fires can happen to anyone. That’s what makes them so scary and why everyone needs to be educated about fire safety from a young age. It goes without saying that every building needs to have a working fire alarm, but it is important to know how to prevent fire and what to do in the event of one. This blog will take a look at the key statistics and questions surrounding house fires.

How common are house fires?

In the UK in 2020, the fire and rescue services were called out to 539,225 incidents. Of course, the fire service is called out for many reasons (the typical cat stuck in a tree comes to mind). But out of these incidents, 153,314 were actual fires. These were of varying degrees of magnitude, but some were so severe that there were 229 fire-related deaths that year.

What are the different types of fire?

As mentioned, there are different severities of fires. These are categorised as:

Primary fires 

Defined as when the fire happens in a habited building/vehicle, involves a fatality/casualty or requires five or more pumping appliances. There were 65,513 of these last year, showing that they are still common in the UK. The majority of these fires (74%) are in houses.

Secondary fires

These occur when the fire is small and doesn’t involve people. They are often outdoors so the statistics for this type of fire can also be influenced by the weather.

Chimney fires

As the name suggests, these are when the fire is contained within a chimney in a non-industrial setting.

What are the biggest causes of house fires?


Although smoking inside pubs, restaurants and nightclubs has been banned since 2007, it is still common inside households. It may seem like a small way for a house fire to begin, but nearly half of deaths in UK house fires are a result of smoking-related sources.

Many of these are from people falling asleep with a cigarette, not extinguishing them properly or carelessness with cigarettes after having alcohol.

Smoking in bed is particularly dangerous as bedding is flammable and most fires occur when residents are asleep.


Candles are another common household item that seem almost too humble to cause such destruction. However, when left unattended, they can engulf an entire building effortlessly, particularly if they are near flammable materials.

To prevent fires when using candles, ensure they are placed on a flat surface away from anything that may knock them (such as children or pets). This also includes placing matches and lighters out of reach of children as they can be inquisitive, and it is a combination that can be equally as dangerous as the candle flame itself. Never leave the house unattended when a candle is burning.


It may seem obvious that cooking is one of the biggest causes of house fires (particularly if you use a gas oven) but it is still one of the most common for all types of oven – mostly due to the grease. A lot of cooking is done using oil or food that has an element of grease, which can be extremely flammable when hot.

Grease can even spontaneously combust without a flame present if it gets hot enough, so electrical cookers are just as much of a risk for house fires as gas ovens. Never leave an oven unattended and try to keep the area clean of oils and grease that may build up from cooking.

If the unfortunate happens and a fire does start near a cooking appliance, don’t use water to try and put it out as this will actually make it worse and potentially cause burning oil to explode over the area. Smothering the fire is the correct way to handle it if the flames are only small, but it’s always safer to call the fire service.

Cooking outside is another common cause of fire. This is for slightly different reasons but BBQs should also never be left unattended. They are likely to cause a fire when placed too close to a wooden fence, decking or even the house itself.

Electrical appliances

Homes are full of electrical appliances. Although these have to pass certain safety measurements, electrical faults in home wiring can cause home fires. Short circuits can create a spark that ignites surrounding materials – many of which are likely to be flammable.

It can happen at any time and in places that are not necessarily obvious within the home, so this type of fire can often get out of hand because they are not spotted soon enough. This is why electrical fires make up around 20,000 of the home fire incidents.

Make sure you use a professional electrician for any wiring or home improvements involving electrical appliances. Doing it yourself may seem like a good way to save money but there is no price for safety.

Which household appliance causes the most fires

It can be quite scary thinking about how our homes are filled with so many things that can cause a house fire, but being aware of these items is the first step to preventing a house fire. These items in particular require frequent check ups to make sure parts are not outdated. And remember: never leave them unattended.

  • Dryer
  • Cooker
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Toaster

Stay safe

House fires are a serious topic but they are preventable. Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility and the more precautions you take, the less likely house fires are to occur. Remember to call the fire service as soon as a fire is too big to handle – the sooner help arrives, the less the fire is able to spread.

Why Use Us

Getting compensation from an insurance company is rarely easy, especially since insurers often pay claimants as little as possible.

Our team of specialists have a vast amount of experience dealing with house fire insurance claims, so no matter what caused the fire at your home, we can help.

We will help make things easier for you and ensure you get the proper compensation you need to restore your property – we work for you rather than the insurance provider. Get in touch with us today via our contact form or on 0844 544 1699.




At this point, you would hope that your insurance company is there to help but unfortunately this is not the case. We have known families who have felt intimidated by insurers and have been treated as though they have done something wrong, or are in some way to blame for their situation.

  • Over 5000
    Successful Claims
    As the UK’s leading insurance claims consultants, you can be confident you have the best team on your side
  • Best Assessors
    Unlike other parties involved in the claims process, you are our sole priority
  • Minimise Stress
    Keep stress to a minimum by managing all aspects of the claims process
  • Get your entitlement
    Get the compensation you are entitled to by negotiating with insurers on your behalf
  • Get your life back
    Get back to normal life as quickly as possible by organising any support you need


Hassle free, no obligations is how we operate. So if you’d like to speak to us call our 24/7 Helpline on 03300229179 or email us at info@harrisbalcombe.com. Or simply click the button below ...