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Out of the frying pan and into the fire: Students cause 6% of London's indoor fires


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The London Fire Brigade has revealed that fires at student accommodation make up 6% of call outs - despite students only making up 0.4% of the population.

This startling figure comes at the end of year which saw a 14% rise in student created fires on the previous year.

University health and safety notices are clearly making little difference. But does this tell the entire story behind these alarming statistics?

London Fire Brigade at work

Students are renowned for their ability to make a menial task dangerous or complex, and cooking is no exception. One student recounts how he saw a flat mate put a pizza in the oven without removing its polystyrene packaging. Fortunately there was no fire but the pizza and oven certainly had seen better days.

Incidents like this do occur, mistakes are made, and inexperience is common. The University of Bristol lost a large section of one of its halls in 2015 when a student's efforts at cooking chips led to a chip pan fire destroying the building's upper floors.  No one died in this incident, with the University proudly stating that its alarms saved lives and that taking the precaution to evacuate was crucial.

The University of Bristol

Even away from halls of residence incidents like this are frequent. University of Edinburgh students recently locked themselves out of their flat in a residential building whilst the hob was on, resulting in a kitchen fire. The risk here was exacerbated by having no university staff on hand to help, and so families and elderly neighbours were put at risk.

London Fire Brigade and universities alike do however admit that there are discrepancies in this data, as many fire brigade call-outs are in fact false alarms caused by over sensitive smoke alarms. Many students will recall being in their pyjamas or on the loo when they were hauled out to stand in the cold for an hour - all because someone on the ground floor burnt their toast or forgot that cans don’t go in the microwave.

So the advice is to continue to cook (eating is of course paramount to living). Just exercise caution through concentrating on what you are doing, acting quickly if a fire does begin and always heeding the wailing of the fire alarm no matter what time of day it is.

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