The use of flame retardants has grown dramatically over the past 30 years, in response to concerns about the increasing use of textiles and plastics in homes and offices. EU legislation (and UK legislation in particular) now require that many textiles and other materials meet stringent fire safety standards, many of which can only be met today by the incorporation of flame retardant additives. These requirements have developed in response to the historical (and ongoing) loss of life and injury to persons experienced in the EU. There are many statistics detailing this, and we include here a couple of references relevant to brominated flame retardant use.
A study by the University of Surrey estimates that flame retardants have been responsible for a 20 percent reduction in fire deaths in the United Kingdom in recent years. Statistics for the UK alone estimate that over 3,000 lives have been saved since 1988 as a result of the legislation mandating that upholstered furniture be made with a high level of fire resistance.
A cost-benefit study has been developed by the Swedish National Testing and Research Institute (SP) in cooperation with the Risk Assessment Institute at Utrecht University, with the aim of quantifying the gains from using flame retardants in TVs. Amongst other things, this study has demonstrated that Deca-BDE used in televisions avoids 11 full house fires per million TV sets, so avoiding 160 deaths and 2,000 injuries per year across Europe. Overall, it is estimated that by using Deca-BDE, gains of between 520 and 1,100 million Euros per year for the entire EU area could be achieved, mainly through saved health care costs and costs relating to damaged property (you can read the full study here).