Deaths from Car Fires

LS Palmer (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Office for National Statistics

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The request was successful.

LS Palmer (Account suspended)

Dear Office for National Statistics,

Since records began and is reasonably accessible, please give a year by year break down of:

1. How many deaths have been recorded as smoke inhalation?

2. In relation to 1 above please state how many were where the deceased inhaled smoke inside a burning car?

3. In relation to 2 above please state how many of the car fires were started from a Catalytic Converter catching fire?

4. In relation to 2 above please state how many deaths were recorded as

a. Suspicious
b. Suicide
c. Non Accidental
d. Accidental

Yours faithfully,

LS Palmer

Paul Wearn, Office for National Statistics

1 Attachment

Our Reference: FOI01238/Palmer/QE1

Please find attached a table showing the number of deaths where the toxic
effect of other specified gases, fumes and vapours (including smoke
inhalation) was mentioned on the death certificate, by underlying cause of
death, England and Wales, 2001-2010.

All of the mortality data ONS have comes from information collected when a
death is registered. All of the causes of death mentioned on the medical
certificate of cause of death or coroner's death certificate are coded
using the International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision (ICD
10). From all of the causes that are mentioned an underlying cause of
death is selected, which is defined as:
a) the disease or injury that initiated the train of events directly
leading to death, or
b) the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the fatal
injury

When the death is caused by an external event like a car accident, the
injuries (eg smoke inhalation or burns) will also be coded and a main
injury / secondary cause will also be selected.

If a person has died from smoke inhalation they will have a nature of
injury code of T59.8 (toxic effect of other specified gases, fumes and
vapours). This is a fairly general code, so although most deaths that
receive this code will be from smoke inhalation, there will be some where
the deceased was exposed to a different gas. It is not possible to confirm
whether smoke inhalation was definitely involved without manually
examining the text on each death certificate, and this cannot be completed
without disproportionate costs. The underlying cause of death will usually
be accidental exposure to uncontrolled fire in building or structure (ICD
10 code X00), but it could be due to other types of fires, including
vehicle fires or fires resulting from arson or suicide.

You have asked for data 'since records began and is reasonably
accessible'. We have provided data from 2001 onwards because this more
straightforward to extract from our mortality databases, as we began using
the tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases in this
year. It would be difficult and time-consuming to extract data for earlier
years.

In question 2 you asked 'In relation to 1 above please state how many were
where the deceased inhaled smoke inside a burning car?'Unfortunately, ICD
10 codes are not specific enough to identify all of these types of deaths.
For example, if someone killed themselves by setting fire to a car and
inhaling the smoke inside that car, their underlying cause of death would
be coded as X76 - Intentional self-harm by smoke, fire and flames. This
code could include fires in many different locations, not just inside
cars. However, most people who died from inhaling smoke inside a burning
car would probably have been involved in a transport accident, so the
table identifies deaths from car accidents and other types of transport
accidents.

Question 3 asks: 'In relation to 2 above please state how many of the car
fires were started from a Catalytic Converter catching fire?'
Unfortunately we are not able to provide this information as there is no
specific ICD 10 code for this scenario. The only way to identify these
deaths would be to examine the text on the coroner's death certificate,
and as I explained above, we do not have the resource to do this.
Moreover, many coroners would not include this type of detail on the death
certificate, so the figures would not be reliable.

In question 4 you have asked us to break the deaths down according to
whether they were: Suspicious, Suicide, Non Accidental or Accidental.
These terms are not used in ICD coding, and we have no information about
whether a death was suspicious. Therefore we have grouped the deaths based
on their underlying cause of death as follows:

* Car accidents
* Other transport accidents
* Other accidents
* Events of undetermined intent (classed as suicides according to the
national statistics definition)
* Intentional self-harm
* Assaults
* Other (diseases)

I hope this data meets your requirements, but please get back to me if you
need any more help.

A wide range of special tables are available on request from the mortality
team, and do not require a freedom of information request to me made.
Therefore, if you have any further requests for mortality data please
could you e-mail the mortality team directly: [email address]. Please
note, there may be a charge, based on the amount of time it takes us to
extract and check the data.
You have the right to have this response to your freedom of information
request reviewed internally by an internal review process and, if you
remain unhappy with the decision, by the Information Commissioner. If you
would like to have the decision reviewed please write to Dennis Roberts,
Office for National Statistics, Room 1214, Government Buildings, Cardiff
Road, Newport, Gwent, NP10 8XG.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards,

Paul Wearn LLB (Hons)
Legal Services
Office for National Statistics

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