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The state of the residential fire fatality problem in Sweden: Epidemiology, risk factors, and event typologies
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Centre for Public Safety (from 2013).
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Centre for Public Safety (from 2013). Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1189-9950
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Centre for Public Safety (from 2013). Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6928-0683
Burn Center, Department of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.
2017 (English)In: Journal of Safety Research, ISSN 0022-4375, E-ISSN 1879-1247, Vol. 62, p. 89-100Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Introduction

Residential fires represent the largest category of fatal fires in Sweden. The purpose of this study was to describe the epidemiology of fatal residential fires in Sweden and to identify clusters of events.

Method

Data was collected from a database that combines information on fatal fires with data from forensic examinations and the Swedish Cause of Death-register. Mortality rates were calculated for different strata using population statistics and rescue service turnout reports. Cluster analysis was performed using multiple correspondence analysis with agglomerative hierarchical clustering.

Results

Male sex, old age, smoking, and alcohol were identified as risk factors, and the most common primary injury diagnosis was exposure to toxic gases. Compared to non-fatal fires, fatal residential fires more often originated in the bedroom, were more often caused by smoking, and were more likely to occur at night. Six clusters were identified. The first two clusters were both smoking-related, but were separated into (1) fatalities that often involved elderly people, usually female, whose clothes were ignited (17% of the sample), (2) middle-aged (45–64 years old), (often) intoxicated men, where the fire usually originated in furniture (30%). Other clusters that were identified in the analysis were related to (3) fires caused by technical fault, started in electrical installations in single houses (13%), (4) cooking appliances left on (8%), (5) events with unknown cause, room and object of origin (25%), and (6) deliberately set fires (7%).

Conclusions

Fatal residential fires were unevenly distributed in the Swedish population. To further reduce the incidence of fire mortality, specialized prevention efforts that focus on the different needs of each cluster are required.

Practical applications

Cooperation between various societal functions, e.g. rescue services, elderly care, psychiatric clinics and other social services, with an application of both human and technological interventions, should reduce residential fire mortality in Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017. Vol. 62, p. 89-100
Keywords [en]
Residential fire-related mortality, Fatal fires, Fire deaths, Record linkage, Cluster analysis
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public Health Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-62583DOI: 10.1016/j.jsr.2017.06.008ISI: 000411543500010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-62583DiVA, id: diva2:1129745
Available from: 2017-08-07 Created: 2017-08-07 Last updated: 2020-01-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Dödsbränder i Sverige: En analys av datakvalitet, orsaker och riskmönster
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dödsbränder i Sverige: En analys av datakvalitet, orsaker och riskmönster
2018 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Fire-related deaths in Sweden : An analysis of data quality, causes and risk patterns
Abstract [sv]

Risken att omkomma genom brand har mer än halverats under de senaste 60 åren i Sverige. Det är idag mycket ovanligt att små barn omkommer i brand men samma positiva utveckling kan inte ses för de äldre. En åldrande befolkning som i ökande omfattning förväntas bo kvar hemma innebär att denna grupp måste prioriteras i framtida brandskyddsarbete. Sambearbetning av data från tre nationella register visar att rutinmässigt framtagen statistik systematiskt underskattar den verkliga situationen. Män, äldre, ensamboende och ekonomiskt svaga är särskilt riskutsatta grupper att omkomma vid bostadsbränder och förekomst av alkohol bland offren är mycket vanligt. Den i särklass vanligaste brandorsaken är rökning. Trots att varje dödsbrand är unik kan det omfattande materialet beskrivas av relativt få och tydligt avgränsade typer av händelser som var och en måste mötas med relevanta preventiva insatser. Avhandlingen visar att dödsbränder i bostäder i huvudsak är ett socialt problem och att det kommer att krävas uthålliga och breda strategier, bestående både av sociala och tekniska åtgärder för att skydda de mest riskutsatta och sårbara människorna i samhället.

Abstract [en]

In Sweden, more than 100 people die in fires every year and there is a societal goal of decreasing the risk of fire-related deaths. A goal-orientated prevention approach needs to be credibly underpinned with an understanding of the extent of the problem, its causes and risk factors, aspects that have largely been missing in Sweden. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to analyze fatal fires and fatalities in Sweden from an epidemiological perspective. The historical trends show that the risk of dying due to fire has decreased by more than 50% over the last 60 years in Sweden, with the largest decline being seen amongst children. In Sweden today, the risk of young children dying in a fire is very low. However, the risk of dying in fires has not declined to the same extent among elderly. In light of the aging Swedish population, older people must therefore be a priority in future fire protection. To investigate fire fatalities, data from three different national registers were combined. By combining the three sources, it was clear that the present routine statistics systematically underestimate the true situation. In-depth analysis regarding residential fires show that men and elderly are particularly at risk, as well as people living alone, as well as those on low income, social security benefits and health-related early-retirement benefits. The most common cause of fire was smoking and the presence of alcohol among the victims was very common. When combined, the extensive material can be simplified and described by well-defined clusters that each can be meet with relevant preventive efforts. Crucially, however, it is clear that mortality in residential fires is essentially a social problem and improving the protection of the most vulnerable people in society needs to be ascertained through sustained and holistic strategies, consisting of both social and technical measures. To establish and facilitate this, a cross-sectoral approach within municipalities and central government is needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018. p. 83
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:18
Keywords
Fire, Risk, Mortality, Epidemiology, Brand, Risk, Mortalitet, Epidemiologi
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Risk and Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67023 (URN)978-91-7063-851-0 (ISBN)978-91-7063-946-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-05-18, 21A342, Eva Erikssonsalen, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Artikel 4 ingick som manuskript i avhandlingen, nu publicerad.

Available from: 2018-04-27 Created: 2018-04-17 Last updated: 2019-04-05Bibliographically approved

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Jonsson, AndersBonander, CarlNilson, Finn

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