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Warning sounded as fire fatalities rise while sales of alarms level off

AN INCREASE in the number of deaths caused by fires has coincided with a levelling-off in demand for fire alarms.

Recent Home Office figures show the number of deaths caused by fire leapt by 12 per cent to 565 people in 1995, the last year for which figures are available.

The previous 10 years saw the total number of deaths decline by about 500.

Alarm manufacturer BMK attributes the increase in fatalities to the levelling of the sales of smoke alarms and many alarms reaching the the end of their useful life.

Gerald Jones, BMK marketing executive, said: 'There was a massive increase in demand for alarms at the time of the King's Cross fire in 1987. The average life of an alarm is 10 years.

'Many are now getting obsolete.'

He added: 'The problem has been compounded by the fact that many alarms currently installed are never cleaned and that in a number of cases the battery has run out so the alarms do not work.'