Smoking materials account for the majority of fires on balconies, with hundreds of balcony fires occurring around the country in the last three years due to smoking. By raising awareness of these startling facts, AliDeck hope to encourage more people to quit smoking, bringing benefits to their health and also helping them to be able to enjoy their balcony in a more fire safe way.
Besides quitting smoking, the surest way to reduce the risk of balcony fires is to remove and replace the combustible materials that are so easily set alight, such as timber or composite balcony decking. Non-combustible alternatives such as aluminium are A Rated for fire and fully compliant with all legislation and building regulations, solving the issue at a stroke.
#Stoptober is with us again and giving up smoking is good for your health but also great for fire safety, especially on balconies
The annual #Stoptober campaign is underway to encourage people to give up smoking for the month of October and, hopefully, permanently. Research has shown that if a smoker is able to quit for 28 days then they are 5 times more likely to quit for good.
The health benefits of quitting smoking are clear and undeniable but a less obvious benefit to kicking the habit is the huge and immediate increase in fire safety that quitters receive!
Smoking is the number one cause of balcony fires
Smoking is the most common cause of fire fatalities, resulting in more deaths each year than any other type of fire. This heavy toll is tragic but there will also be many non-fatal fires caused by smoking materials that destroy homes and properties, ruining lives in the process.
A particularly troubling type of smoking-related fire is those that occur on balconies on high-rise buildings. Following the Grenfell tragedy, there has been a monumental shift in awareness of fire safety issues pertaining to tower blocks with a close focus on the dangers caused by flammable wall cladding.
Action to achieve fire safety has been slow, however, and many blocks remain in a problematic condition with combustible materials contained in many areas other than merely in the wall cladding. Balconies in particular have traditionally been constructed with combustible elements such as timber or composite decking so they have an inherent fire risk and, as external attachments to the building, often cause fires to spread quickly.
Half of all balcony fires in Kent caused by smoking materials
AliDeck, a Rochester-based aluminium decking manufacturer, have recently conducted research into the prevalence and causes of fires on balconies, receiving shocking data from fire and rescue services around the UK. Over the previous three years there have been nearly 900 balcony fires recorded, the majority of which were a result of reckless or careless behaviour.
London Fire Brigade reported nearly 600 balcony fires across the capital in the last three years, with 291 of them being caused by smoking materials. Manchester saw 51 balcony fires in the same period, with 23 caused by smoking materials; Hampshire saw 37, 22 smoking related; closer to home, Kent suffered 20 balcony fires with half due to smoking.
Richard Izzard, AliDeck managing director, said “Fires on balconies are regularly in the news and it is heart-breaking to see so many people lose their homes, possessions, and sadly sometimes their lives in these avoidable blazes. Our research clearly shows that smoking is the direct cause of many of these so it is essential that smokers are made aware of the risks they take in smoking on their combustible balconies.”
“By giving up smoking, fire safety will immediately increase for people living in flats with balconies which is a great incentive alongside the obvious health benefits they’ll enjoy.”
Reduce the risk by quitting smoking or removing combustible building materials
The most shocking aspect of these devastating statistics is that these smoking-related balcony fires are completely avoidable. By people quitting smoking and therefore removing the materials that might cause a blaze, the risk of smoking-related fires on their balconies is immediately drastically reduced.
Many smoking-related balcony fires, though, are caused by smokers carelessly discarding their cigarettes from their own balconies only for them to be blown onto balconies below, such as that at a building in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in May of this year. The more people that quit smoking, however, the less often this reckless act will cause fires.
Accordingly, AliDeck fully embrace the aims and ideals of #Stoptober and endeavour to support the campaign through the whole of October, looking to raise awareness of the fire safety issues caused by smoking particularly as they pertain to fires on balconies.
Giving up smoking is an extremely difficult task for many people, though, and that many who try to quit this October will sadly not be successful at this attempt. Our message to them is twofold; keep trying and never give up on giving up, and also consider replacing the combustible timber or composite elements of your balcony to remove the possibility of smoking materials causing a dangerous balcony fire.
Alternatives to timber or composite decking include aluminium, which is a non-combustible material. With aluminium decking systems available that achieve an A1 fire rating, the best rating achievable, by replacing combustible materials with aluminium decking homeowners and property managers are immediately making a huge leap towards a fire safe home.
“Replacing combustible materials on balconies with non-combustible alternatives such as aluminium is a sure-fire way to increase balcony fire safety,” Richard concluded. “As more people give up smoking and more balconies have timber or composite deckling replaced, we’ll start to see a welcome reduction in these balcony fire incidents.”
To find out more about how AliDeck aluminium decking can help your balcony become more fire safe, please get in touch.