Aim: This paper is the last in a series of research articles on the “Assessment of safety levels in the context of fire statistics of the Polish State Fire Service” (PSFS) published in “Safety & Fire Service Techniques” quarterly journal. The main purpose of the paper is to present an overview of methodology used to describe possible fire causes (PPP) in selected fire incident reporting systems of EU member states. The article also classifies causes in residential building fires, registered in the Polish State Fire Service reports for the years 2000-2012. The study involves examination of residential fires which, occurred nationally (Poland) and at city level (Warsaw).

Introduction: The starting point for this paper is provided by the most important conclusions from previous papers on the assessment of safety levels in context of fires [2], local hazards [3] and time and space related characteristics of residential building fires (POM) in the geographical information system (Warsaw case study) [4]. The introduction incorporates a review of PPP and data about causes of fires contained in reports produced by the Polish, British, Swedish, Finnish, Hungarian and Romanian Fire Services. This is followed by the authors’ description of the main functionality of the Polish and Swedish incident reporting software.

Methodology: An analysis of data was performed for selected residential building fire incidents (POM), registered in the State Fire Service fire reporting system (SWD-ST) for the years 2000-2012. Data was geo-encoded and mapped on a 25 km cartography grid for national incidents and 1 km grid for the city of Warsaw. A ranking list of Administrative Districts (towns) was created, to reveal the highest and lowest number of residential fires (POM). The authors described the structure of PPP, contained in the Polish State Fire Service fire reporting system and explored the frequency distribution for each of them. The cause of fire was identified against one of three categories: human factor (caused directly or indirectly by humans), technical (caused by faulty devices, domestic appliances or other building structure defects) and unknown (unspecified).

Conclusions: The results indicate differences in the fire cause description structure for EU fire services reporting systems and emergency calls classification. Based on research, it is presumed that probably 60% of residential building fires at national level and 73% in Warsaw were caused by the human factor. Technical factors were attributed to 19% and 11% incidents correspondingly, and other factors were attributed to 21% and 16% of incidents correspondingly.

Keywords: fires, fire safety, fire hazards, residential builing fires, fire statistics, fire causes, fire investigation

Type of article: original scientific article