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Fire Incidents in a Mental Health Setting: Effects of Implementing Smokefree Polices and Permitting the Use of Different Types of E-Cigarettes

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Original languageEnglish
Article number8951
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number23
Published1 Dec 2020

King's Authors


Comprehensive smokefree policies in health care settings can have a positive impact on patients' smoking behaviour, but implementation is impeded by concern that surreptitious smoking may increase fire incidents. We investigated the incidence of routinely reported fire and false alarm incidents in a large mental health organisation in England over an 81-month period when different elements of a smokefree policy were implemented. We used negative binomial regression models to test associations between rates of fire and false alarm incidents and three hospital smokefree policy periods with mutual adjustment for occupied bed days: (1) an indoor policy which allowed disposable e-cigarettes; (2) a comprehensive policy which allowed disposable e-cigarettes; and (3) a comprehensive policy with all e-cigarette types allowed. We identified 90 fires and 200 false alarms. Fires decreased (incidence rate ratio (IRR): 0.35, 95% CI: 0.17-0.72, p = 0.004) and false alarms increased (IRR: 1.67, 95% CI: 1.02-2.76, p = 0.043), each by approximately two-thirds, when all e-cigarette types were allowed, after adjusting for bed occupancy and the comprehensive smokefree policy. Implementation of smokefree policies in mental health care settings that support use of all types of e-cigarettes may reduce fire risks, though measures to minimise effects of e-cigarette vapour on smoke detector systems may be needed to reduce false alarm incidents.

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