I came across this through the good offices of th Norwich Evening News, and my favourite twitterer, http://twitter.com/EveningNews
Written up by the splendidly Christmassy David Freezer, it is a tale of fear and horror...
A dramatic video of how quickly a Christmas tree fire can be spread has been released to warn people to not allow tragedy to strike in their home this Christmas.Scary it is too.
But I had a look at the statistics, and I noted that in Norfolk - Oh yes the Department of Communities and LocalGovernent had obviously done thir work and have press released tis little fear mongering across the country, county by county - in Norfolk,
Statistics from last year show that of the 429 domestic fires in Norfolk, December was one of the busiest months for firefighters with a total of 46.Well that would mean that the aveage per month in Norfolk was 35. So December with 46 is bad, but not that bad, and given that we are all turning up the heating, having fires at home and so on, hardly surprising.
I note that,
Statistics show that of the 595 domestic fires in Hertfordshire during 2009, 64 took place in December. Across the border in Essex, 82 of the 803 blazes in the county occurred during the last month of the year.See what I mean about localised press releases...
The Government’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Sir Ken Knight said: “Everyone enjoys the festive cheer that a Christmas tree and decorations can bring to a home. But the sad fact is that all this can act as extra fuel for a potential house fire. Unsafe electrical decorations, overloaded plugs and unattended candles are all potential causes of fire.I don't know, call me a cynic but I just wanted to check on those statistics. After all burning Christmas trees are scary things, just look at that video.
“Just two to three breaths of toxic smoke from a fire can render a person unconscious and you have less time to escape than you think. It only takes a minute for festive celebrations to go up in smoke, so I urge everyone to be fire safe this year and have a great Christmas.”
Dry Christmas trees, decorations and wrapped presents can all provide means for a fire to spread in the home so Fire Kills have issued a list of precautions to take, as well as reminded people to test their fire alarms as soon as possible.
So on the department website we find this,
Notes to editorsHmm... Thinks I, no mention of Christmas trees in the Statistics. So I do what any journalist should do and check. I phoned the Deprtament of Communities;and Local Government and asked if they had any statistics relating to Christmas Tree Fires? After all they were trying to scare us about the dangers of Christmas trees.
Provisional statistics show that nearly 2000 fires were caused by electric heaters, electric blankets and candles in 2009/10. Figures will be verified upon publication of Fire Statistics UK during Summer 2011.
Don't let your Christmas go up in smoke. Dry Christmas trees, decorations and wrapped presents can all provide means for a fire to spread in the home.
They phoned back,
"No", the friendly lass said, "We have no statistics on Christmas tree fires".Christmas trees could present a danger, so can books for Pete's sake - Do you put out warnings during the Hay Festival? Excess books could result in congflagration!
"Decorations, statistics on the effect of decorations?"
"So why are you sending out scary press releases and making scary films about the dangers of Christmas trees when you have no data to back it up?"
"Well Christmas trees could present a danger" She said, slightly hesitantly.
"We do the same at Diwali".
"OK, so it is alright to scare people of all faiths, without any evidence to back it up?"She started to go on like some sort of bit part in a CSI film about dry trees being an accelerant (which makes me wonder if the very fast burning tree in the film is bone dry, the sort that got chucked out a couple of weeks ago).
I pushed again, after all, we have the Government trying to make our flesh creep. Yes of course Christmas trees and paper and electric lights and candles (and Christmas puddings - don't forget the Christmas puddings) are flamable. We know that.
I scoffed again, and getting increasingly annoyed with me she answered,
"The Government has an important role in public information".Well maybe, but not without any evidence to back it up you don't.
Just for the record Madam, and Bob Neil the Minister implicated in this.
We are not stupid, you can stop spending money telling uis things we know about now.