Seven people die each day in reported U.S. home fires

Seven people die each day in reported U.S. home fires
NFPA releases new report on home fire statistics

April 23, 2013 – The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) new report on home fires shows that U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 366,600 home structure fires from 2007-2011. Seven people died each day in U.S. home fires, on average, and older adults were the age group most likely to die in a home fire. Cooking equipment remains the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries; however, smoking materials persist as the leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the report.

Roughly one in every 320 households per year had a reported home fire during this five-year period. These fires caused an estimated average of 2,570 civilian deaths, 13,210 civilian injuries, and $7.2 billion in direct property damage per year.

One-quarter (25 percent) of the home fire deaths resulted from fires that originated in the bedroom, another quarter (24 percent) from fires in the family room, living room, or den, and 16 percent from fires starting in the kitchen. Half of home fire deaths were caused by incidents reported between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

Home fire deaths from fires in which no smoke alarms were present, or in which smoke alarms were present but did not operate, accounted for 60 percent of all home fire deaths. Smoke alarms were lacking in 37 percent of home fire deaths, and at least one alarm was present but non-operational in 23 percent.

“Three out of five home fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms, which emphasizes the importance of taking personal responsibility when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from fire,” says Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “Installing and maintaining these alarms could save a majority of the lives lost in home fires, especially if they work in conjunction with home sprinklers.”

Fire sprinklers were present in only 6 percent of reported home fires between 2006-2010, according to a 2012 report - U.S. Experience with Sprinklers. That report, referenced in the home fires report, also noted that the death rate was 83 percent lower when wet pipe sprinkler systems were present, compared to reported home fires without any automatic extinguishing systems.

The report is based on data from the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey.

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Submitted by:  Dan Reid