Fire safety warning for millions of homeworkers

27 March 2020

The London Fire Brigade has issued urgent safety advice as millions of staff stop commuting and begin working from home to stem the spread of COVID-19.

With city office workers no longer travelling into their workplaces on a daily basis, London Fire Brigade is warning of the potential for more fires as people adapt to their new daily routines.

Firefighters are usually called to a larger number of domestic fires between 6pm and 8pm and there has traditionally been an increase in cooking fires during the weekend when people are at home for longer periods of time.

However in 2020, the Brigade says it is seeing an increase in weekday fires and fires earlier in the day.

The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly, said, “There are such simple things we can all do to ensure we are keeping safe while we are all spending more time at home.”

As people spend more time indoors than usual, the latest safety hints from the Brigade include the following.

  • Test that your smoke alarms are working.

  • When setting up your temporary home office area, there is a risk of an increase in electrical fires. Hazards include overloading plug sockets, using counterfeit or incorrect chargers for tablets, laptops and mobile phones and “daisy-chaining” — plugging multiple extension leads together or plugging many multi-socket adaptors into a single socket.

  • Cooker fires are also a major concern as people are expected to cook more during the day and with schools shut and children at home, parents could get distracted.

  • Another concern around people spending more time at home is higher heating bills, which, in turn, may tempt people to heat their home unsafely.

  • An increase in smoking-related fires, the most common cause of fire deaths, is also thought to be a possibility as smokers may start smoking inside more as people are continually advised not to go out unnecessarily.