Major fire

Impact 5
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upper likelihood error bar
risk indicator
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Impact & Likelihood
Impact key
5 Catastrophic
4 Significant
3 Moderate
2 Limited
1 Minor
Likelihood key
5 >25%
4 5-25%
3 1-5%
2 0.2-1%
1 <0.2%


This risk concerns a major fire occurring in the UK. Major fires can start for a variety of reasons, including accidents (for example electrical faults), human activity that combines ignition sources and fuel, malicious activity (for example arson), infrastructure incidents (for example sparks from electricity lines or rail transport) and natural phenomena (for example lightning).


The reasonable worst-case scenario is based on major fire, for example in a high-rise residential building, care home, assisted living complex or a hospital, that results in a significant loss of life or injury. There would be significant damage to the building/premises structure, with disruption to local transport services for up to a week. Disruption to essential services would also be expected, with significant pressure on local housing and accommodation due to rehousing requirements of residents.


A fire could occur in a setting where more vulnerable people live. Within this type of accommodation, there may be residents who cannot respond to an alarm and/or may be less able to self-evacuate, meaning that the impact of the fire could be more severe.

Response capability requirements

Fire and rescue services would lead on the response, including putting out the fire as well as the emergency evacuation and rescue residents. This would include utilisation of national capabilities, for example high-volume pumps and urban search and rescue. Evacuation and temporary shelter would be needed for residents. Treatment and mental health services would be required for psychological casualties. There would also be a requirement for rubble and debris clearance of the site to make it safe.


It may take several years to rebuild, with residents residing in temporary accommodation for an extended period. There would be long-lasting impacts to both physical and mental health.