London Fire Brigade (LFB) has published figures showing a startling rise in smoking-related fires in the capital since the start of the UK lockdown. The 20% increase in fires comes despite the recently reported fall in smokers, with 1 million people in the UK kicking the habit during the pandemic.
Smoking remains one of the leading causes of fires, with hundreds of fires around the country caused by discarded cigarettes each year. In November 2019, The Cube in Bolton was devastated by a fire  now concluded to have been started by a discarded cigarette on a combustible balcony. This is, sadly, a staggeringly common occurrence with a litany of balcony fires caused by smoking materials the length and breadth of the country.
LFB report in their latest figures that smoking materials caused over 500 fires during the lockdown period. Most notable was a blaze in a block of flats in Kennington in June started by a discarded cigarette from a higher floor igniting a first-floor balcony. Whilst the flat was destroyed, all residents fortunately were able to evacuate although 18 adults and children required treatment by ambulance crews.
Richard Izzard, Managing Director of non-combustible aluminium decking manufacturers AliDeck, said “We are seeing balcony fires all around the UK with worrying regularity, most of which have been started either by the use of barbecues or carelessly discarded cigarettes. With more people staying indoors or working from home during the Covid lockdown, it’s no surprise to see a rise in the figures but simple steps to remove and replace combustible materials would solve the issue at a stroke.”
Short of an apparently very unlikely behavioural change in smokers, the only way to reduce the risk of fires on balconies being caused by discarded cigarettes is for all combustible materials to be removed and replaced with non-combustible options, such as aluminium decking which is A-Rated for fire-safety. Removing combustible materials such as timber or composite balcony decking will immediately result in safer buildings and help to protect lives and property.
To discuss your timber or composite decking replacement options, contact the AliDeck team.