Senior och en yngre kvinna tittar ut genom ett fönster

Fire safety for an ageing population

Domestic fires are more common and more dangerous than is widely believed. Every year, around 100 people lose their lives in fires in Sweden. Most fire fatalities occur in the home and the vast majority of these are elderly people.

How can we enhance fire protection in a cost-effective way for an ageing population?  What technology enabled care solutions are available and which risk factors are particularly important to consider? Careium presents not only insights from the latest research but also positive experiences of connecting smoke alarms to social alarms. It need not cost a lot of money to save a lot of lives.


Between January and September 2020, Sweden recorded the highest number of fire-related deaths since 2005. 83 people lost their lives in a fire during that period, in comparison to 2019 when a total of 81 people died during the entire year. According to Mattias Delin, fire protection engineer at the Swedish Fire Protection Association, the coronavirus pandemic is one possible explanation for the sharp rise in fatalities. Increased isolation in the home is one contributing risk factor.

Prioritised risk-reduction measures

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) predicts that the number of house fire deaths is likely to increase by just over a third by 2050. According to the agency, fire protection for vulnerable people needs a greater degree of individual adaptation. As a preventive measure, smoke alarms can be connected to social alarms and thus managed by a monitoring centre. Forwarding the alarm signal to home care services or relatives can also increase the possibility of getting to safety

Ways forward

Many risk factors that contribute to more elderly people dying in fires can be minimised with cost-effective solutions. As many people in the risk group already have access to social alarms, connecting them to smoke alarms is a simple solution that can save many lives. It is a legal requirement to have functioning fire alarm equipment in Sweden. By introducing monitored fire alarms for the elderly, we can reduce the number of deaths.

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Västervik Municipality has taken the initiative to install smoke alarms that are connected to social alarms. According to Jakob Dahlqvist, fire engineer at Västervik Fire & Rescue service, this is one of the most reassuring and best initiatives that the municipality has implemented to avoid fire incidents and fatal fires.