Fatal home fires in Belgium: 60 victims by 2023!

Photo credits to mention: © Brussels Region Fire Service, 23 August 2023. […]

Apr 2024
Fatal home fires in Belgium: 60 victims by 2023!

Photo credits to mention: © Brussels Region Fire Service, 23 August 2023.



Tim Renders is a Belgian fire fighter, fire safety instructor, fire prevention consultant and author of a book about this matter. He knows better than anyone how important it is to prevent fires in the home.

Every year, he lists all the cases of home fires reported in the press. Admittedly, these figures provide only an incomplete, but nonetheless indicative, snapshot of home fires in Belgium.

In his annual report, published by ANPI, he shares his figures on fatal victims, as well as his personal thoughts on the improvements that need to be made in our country.



Figures for 2023 in Belgium

In 2023, home fires in Belgium caused the deaths of at least 60 people, including 30 women and 29 men (for one victim, the sex was not known).

The 60 deaths resulted from a total of 46 fatal home fires, including 25 in Wallonia, 4 in Brussels and 17 in Flanders. 29 of the 46 fatal fires occurred in single-family homes, 14 in flat blocks, 1 in a caravan and 2 in care homes.

32 victims died in Wallonia, 4 in Brussels and 24 in Flanders. 39 victims died at night or in the evening.

The youngest victim had not yet been born and the oldest was 96. The average age of those killed in domestic fires is 54.

June was a particularly dark month, with 10 deaths. This is double the average number of victims for these months since 2014. This doubling also applies to November 2023 with 9 deaths.

The home fires of 2023 also caused at least 46 serious injuries, many of them life-threatening. The total number of victims will therefore undoubtedly exceed 59 deaths.


Comparison with 2022 figures

Compared with 2022, the number of deaths due to home fires has fallen in Belgium. There had been at least 76 deaths out of a total of 67 fatal home fires, including 29 women and 45 men. There were 40 deaths in Wallonia, 10 in Brussels and 26 in Flanders (Table 1).

The youngest victim was 6 years old and the oldest 97. The average age of those killed in home fires was 64. Nearly 60% of fatal home fires occurred in single-family homes.

The decrease in the number of fatal home fires is particularly evident in Brussels (from 10 to 4 deaths), followed by Wallonia (from 40 to 32 deaths). In Flanders, there were 2 fewer deaths.


Table 1: Comparison 2022-2023

Comparison between 2014 and 2023

If we look at the figures for the years 2014 (the year from which the author began his observations) to 2023 (Table 2), we see that there are on average almost 63 deaths per year. On average, one person dies every 6 days in Belgium in a home fire.

Over the last 10 years, an average of 26.5 people have died each year in Flanders, almost 32 in Wallonia and 4.5 in Brussels.

2016 was the worst year with 78 deaths, including 46 in Flanders, 28 in Wallonia and 4 in Brussels, and 2021 was the least dramatic year for Belgium.


Table 2: Comparison between 2014 end 2023


How can we quickly and drastically reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by fires?

A sufficient number of smoke detectors in the home and an escape plan drawn up in advance and known to the occupants of the home save lives!

In Belgium, home fires claim too many victims. As well as avoiding the risk of fire in and around the home, it is important to invest in a sufficient number of audible smoke detectors with a fixed 10-year battery.

Few people realize that if a fire breaks out at night, they are very unlikely to wake up in time. This is because when we sleep, our sense of smell is virtually “deactivated”. The smoke from a fire spreads very quickly and is asphyxiating.

A sufficient number of audible smoke detectors and an escape plan drawn up in advance and known by the occupants of the home help to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by home fires. It is important to fit smoke alarms in all high-risk areas, with the exception of places where false alarms are likely to be triggered, such as the kitchen, bathroom and areas where the temperature varies greatly.

When a fire is detected early, the chances of escape and survival increase.



In Belgium, we are in a very poor position when it comes to fire safety in the home. The author of the statistics has been insisting on this point for many years: it is high time to change this situation. It is to be hoped that prevention and awareness campaigns will have an impact, but in the meantime we can already achieve a great deal on our own. After all, fire safety starts with you. If everyone reached out to their own network of family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, etc. and raised awareness of home fire safety, we could reach millions of Belgians in our spare time alone.

So let’s work together to make 2024 a year without fire risk!



The full report has been published in ANPI Magazine #34, March 2024.
The articles in French and Dutch are available in PDF format on CFPA’s website at the following addresses:
-in French: <URL>
-in Dutch: <URL>

ANPI is the Belgian National Fire Protection Association
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