Preventing fires in housing

Thursday 27 October 2022

Over the past five years at Zurich Municipal we have experienced large losses in housing associations, where large losses totalled £36 million. Of these losses, 62.5% were fire and explosion, with the damage costing approximately £23 million.

We also saw a big increase in the amount of fire related incidents during 2021, with a total of 17 losses, where in previous years the annual average number of large fire losses was just four.

Over 70% of these incidents were caused by human activity, which means that to some extent they may have been preventable. Fire clearly continues to be a cause for concern and by reminding ourselves of some safety tips, we can all help to reduce fire risk.

We have put together this video to help raise awareness of the issues of fires in housing, and to identify ways in which we can all help to prevent such instances in our own homes. Watch the video now.

As the video details, there are various ways fires can begin and we focus on seven of them. Below is a summary of the different causes but for full guidance on how to mitigate the risks watch the video or visit our extended guidance.


From falling ash to discarded still-lit cigarettes, most claims received last year for fire damage in housing were caused by smoking. Even vaping and using e-cigarettes pose a risk, as the batteries and chargers used to keep them powered can lead to short circuits, sparking, and in some cases explosions.


There’s nothing nicer than a barbecue with friends and family in the sunshine. However, barbecues can quickly get out of hand and cause damage if not used with caution.

Candles and incense burners

They may make your home feel cosy, but when placed in the wrong spot or left alone for long periods, that tiny flame can spread quickly throughout the house.

Criminal activity

Unfortunately, every year we receive claims for fire damage caused by criminal activities such as arson and cannabis farming.


Even in this digital age, many of us still have paperwork lying around at home. While we may want to keep important documents close at hand, if they are not stored away safely, they pose a risk of catching fire.


Everyone wants to see themselves in the best light, but firefighters recommend that glass ornaments such as paperweights and reflective items such as magnifying mirrors should not be left on windowsills, as sunlight can reflect off or through them and set fire to flammable items such as curtains.

Electrical fires

Technology can be a powerful tool that makes our lives easier, but every year fires are caused by electrical items. E-scooters have seen a rise in popularity over the past few years but unfortunately claims for lithium battery fires has increased as a result.

Indoor fires

With current significant increases in the cost of things like food, fuel and energy, we are sadly seeing headlines in the news of people resorting to desperate measures, to try to keep costs down.

Fire remains one of the most significant risks to our homes, but by reminding ourselves of the ways in which we can prevent fires, we can protect our property, and each other, from its devastating effects.

Katy Brown, Claims Adjuster, Zurich Municipal

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