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Alcohol and Fire

Alcohol Related Fires in the Home

Every year the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attends a large number of alcohol related fires. Most of these fires start because people are cooking or smoking whilst under the influence of drink.

A person who has been drinking is less likely to be aware if a fire takes hold, particularly if they do not have a working smoke alarm. People under the influence of alcohol are also more likely to feel disorientated if fire breaks out, making it more difficult for them to escape. Don't fuel fire with alcohol - it only takes one act of carelessness when smoking or cooking to result in someone losing their home, their possessions or, ultimately, their life.

Alcohol and Smoking

In Scotland, most fatal fires are started by smoking. You can cut the chances of this happening to you.

  • Cigarette ends can smoulder for ages if not put out properly.
  • Stub cigarettes out properly in an ashtray - make sure there's no smoke
  • Pour water on cigar and cigarette ends before putting in a bin - ideally an outside bin
  • Never leave a cigarette, cigar or pipe unattended
  • Never empty a pipe into a bin - the ember can still be very hot even if it's not smoking
  • Never balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray or anything else - they can tip and fall as they burn away


Using a proper ashtray is a good start to stopping fires from smoking.

  • Empty and clean your ashtray regularly
  • Douse with water before putting the contents of the ashtray in the bin
  • Empty into a metal bin outside if you can
  • Keep paper, wrappers and other rubbish that could catch light out of your ashtray

Alcohol and sleepiness

Take extra care if you've been drinking alcohol

  • Never smoke in bed
  • Don't smoke in your chair if you've been drinking or you're feeling sleepy
  • If you do feel sleepy, smoke outside, standing up or at a window or outside door

Matches and Lighters

Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children, and away from heat sources

  • Teach children not to play with matches and lighters
  • Teach children to hand any matches or lighters they find to a responsible adult
  • Buy safety matches (ones that only strike on the box)
  • Buy lighters with safety locks and that go out when you let go of them
  • Make sure matches are out before you put them down
  • Make sure lighters are out properly before putting them down
  • Don't throw used matches straight in the bin
  • Put used matches in an ashtray or a metal or ceramic plate and empty it regularly
  • Get a flameless 'spark' lighter to light gas stoves and heaters