On April 7th, World Health Day, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) issued a press release advising cigarette smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, if they can’t quit nicotine completely, in order to minimize the risk of accidental fires.
Over the last three years, the LFB has recorded over 3500 smoking related fires compared to only 14 incidents involving electronic cigarettes over the same period of time. That’s over 255 times more blazes caused by smoking and the improper disposal of smoking materials. And while cigarettes remain the city’s main cause of fatal fires, the Brigade has recorded no deaths or injuries as a result of vaping.
“Our preference is that you stop smoking altogether but if you must smoke, vaping holds fewer fire risks than cigarettes as butts, ash and matches are often carelessly discarded which can lead to fires,” said Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety at LFB.
However, e-cigarettes are not without risks, so the London Fire Brigade has also issues some warnings and advice for e-cigarette users:
- Only use the battery and charger that’s provided with the e-cigarette and buy them from a reputable vendor.
- Keep e-cigarettes away from heat sources and uncovered while charging.
- Users are reminded to never use a damaged e-cigarette and never leave them on charge while they are away from the house or left to charge overnight while they are asleep.
“In terms of general fire risk, e-cigarettes do present a safer option than ordinary cigarettes but remember, just like a phone or laptop, if you use the wrong power source to charge it, this can also cause a fire,” Daly added.
This was the first time that the London Fire Brigade actually suggested smokers switch to electronic cigarettes if they can’t quit nicotine completely. They recorded their first e-cigarette-related fire in 2014, when investigators concluded that a user had charged their device using an incompatible charger. “People assume e-cigarettes are much safer than ordinary cigarettes, and in most cases they are. The danger is that people sometimes use incorrect chargers which runs the risk of over-charging, which can potentially have explosive results, “Charlie Pugsley of the LFB said at the time.
In 2016, British media tried to paint vaping as a major cause of accidental fires in the UK, claiming that “around 2.2 million Brits smoke e-cigarettes, and firefighters now attend at least one fire a week caused by the gadgets,” but this latest press release from the London Fire Brigade makes that very hard to believe. 14 fires in three years must be pretty low on the list of problems for firefighters.
So if you were looking for another big advantage of vaping over smoking, its low risk of accidental fires was just confirmed by London’s firefighters.