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Poor at risk of dying in a fire; Report blames lack of smoke alarms.

Byline: SAMANTHA CLARKE

MORE than 250 people have died in fires across the West Midlands region in the last 14 years, new statistics have revealed.

Most fatalities have occurred in areas of social deprivation, where people do not have enough money to take all the necessary precautions.

Eighty-eight per cent of the 255 casualties died in properties where no smoke alarm was fitted and 69 cases were found to be alcohol-related.

The findings were compiled by West Midlands Fire Research and Investigation Section which highlighted the strong link between fire fatalities and areas of social deprivation.

A report from Mark McCabe, from the Fire Research and Investigation Section, said: "The data in this report has revealed that there is a strong link between areas of social deprivation and fire deaths - 72.4 per cent of fatal fire incidents occurring in areas where there is a high level of social deprivation.

"Eighty-eight per cent of fatal fires occurred in premises where the protection afforded by a smoke detector was absent.

"The very old and the very young continue to be those most likely to die as a result of a fire.

"Smoking materials have been identified as the cause of 49 per cent of fires that result in a fatality. The consumption of alcohol was recorded as a factor in 21 per cent of fatalities.

"All of the above reflect the opinions of many in the fire community that those least able to protect themselves are those most at risk from fire."

The report is set to be discussed at the next meeting of the West Midlands Fire and Civil Defence Authority in Birmingham on Monday.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 28, 2002
Words:275
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