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Fire Research Notes


Chandler, S.E., 1968. FIRE DEATHS IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 1968. Fire Research Notes 715


There was a disturbing number of deaths in fires in the first quarter of 1968. Based on reports received, there were 285 deaths in 216 fires. Multiple fatality fires numbered 31, as many as in the first three months of 1963, which was a particularly bad period. The worst incident this quarter was the fire at the Shelton Mental Hospital, which accounted for the lives of 24 females, many of them elderly or sub-normal. Another bad fire involved some flatlets in London, accounting for 5 deaths. The 216 fires also involved 110 non-fatal casualties, 116 rescues (including over 40 at Shelton Hospital), 47 escapes. In one incident, 66 pupils of a boarding school were evacuated. Tables 1 - 4 inclusive, give further details of these fires. As Table 1 shows the great majority of fires involving deaths occur in dwellings, multiple death fires being most common in terraced houses and buildings converted into flats. Table 2 gives details of the time of call to the fires. Smoking materials and various forms of space heating are prominent causes. Young children and old people account for 61 per cent of the deaths and were often alone when the incidents occurred. Although the winter months usually account for a high proportion of fire deaths, if the trend which has been set this quarter continues, the death toll in fires attended by fire brigades this year could well approach 900.

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