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House fires in Orkney increased from two to ten over the last year

Orkney roads have seen the highest rate of fatalities per population in Scotland according to the SRFS
Figures from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SRFS) were presented to Orkney councillors this week.

The number of accidental dwelling fires in Orkney rose from two to ten over the last year according to the latest figures from the fire service.

At a meeting of Orkney council’s police and fire sub-committee, the fire service’s John McKenna presented figures that showed a sharp rise between this year, up to April, and the same period the year before.

Mr McKenna, the station commander in Orkney, said the increase was down to more people being at home due to the pandemic.

He gave the sub-committee a rundown of the ten fires that occurred:

  • 1 chimney fire
  • 1 wheelie bin with a cigarette in it
  • 2 due to faulty equipment
  • 2 due to cooking
  • 2 due to negligence by the duty holder or occupier
  • an overheating appliance
  • 1 incident of combustibles being stored too close to their ignition source

He said two of these were serious fires. One resulted in the “total loss” of a building.

The other was the result of someone trying to extinguish a chip pan with a fire extinguisher.

However, he said there were no casualties or injuries as a result of any of the fires.

Mr McKenna said: “I think we can put these numbers down to an increased amount of time spent at home and a lot of working at home.

No casualties or injuries due to fires seen over last year

“Many were juggling busy lives with homeworking, cooking, looking after children, and you become distracted.”

After the meeting, Mr McKenna spoke to the Press and Journal about the figures.

He said, over the last five years, the average number of accidental dwelling fires in Orkney has been 7.2 per year.

The number of home fire safety visits the service was able to carry out also suffered due to the pandemic. With a target of 300 per year being set before the outbreak of covid, the SRFS in Orkney was not able to meet the quarterly target of 75, managing 46.

Mr McKenna said they were been forced to adopt a “quality over quantity” approach. This was to reduce risks to their crews and the public.

This was the first meeting of the sub-committee since the council elections.

As its first point of business, it saw councillor David Dawson elected chairman.

Councillor Duncan Tullock was appointed vice-chairman.

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