Facts On Fire
Fire in the United States
- The U.S. has one of the highest
fire death rates in the industrialized world. For 1998, the U.S. fire
death rate was 14.9 deaths per million population.
- Between 1994 and 1998, an
average of 4,400 Americans lost their lives and another 25,100 were
injured annually as the result of fire.
- About 100 firefighters are
killed each year in duty-related incidents.
- Each year, fire kills more
Americans than all natural disasters combined.
- Fire is the third leading cause
of accidental death in the home; at least 80 percent of all fire deaths
occur in residences.
- About 2 million fires are
reported each year. Many others go unreported, causing additional
injuries and property loss.
- Direct property loss due to
fires is estimated at $8.6 billion annually.
Where Fires Occur
- There were 1,755,000 fires in
the United States in 1998. Of these:
41% were Outside Fires
29% were Structure Fires
22% were Vehicle Fires
8 % were fires of other types
- Residential fires represent 22
percent of all fires and 74 percent of structure fires.
- Fires in 1-2 family dwellings
most often start in the:
- Kitchen 23.5%
- Bedroom 12.7%
- Living Room 7.9%
- Chimney 7.1
- Laundry Area 4.7%
- Apartment fires most often
start in the:
- Kitchen 46.1%
- Bedroom 12.3%
- Living Room 6.2%
- Laundry Area 3.3%
- Bathroom 2.4%
- The South has the highest fire
death rate per-capita with 18.4 civilian deaths per million population.
- 80 percent of all fatalities
occur in the home. Of those, approximately 85 percent occur in
single-family homes and duplexes.
Causes of Fires and Fire Deaths
- Cooking is the leading cause of
home fires in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of home fire
injuries. Cooking fires often result from unattended cooking and human
error, rather than mechanical failure of stoves or ovens.
- Careless smoking is the leading
cause of fire deaths. Smoke alarms and smolder-resistant bedding and
upholstered furniture are significant fire deterrents.
- Heating is the second leading
cause of residential fires and the second leading cause of fire deaths.
However, heating fires are a larger problem in single family homes than
in apartments. Unlike apartments, the heating systems in single family
homes are often not professionally maintained.
- Arson is both the third leading
cause of residential fires and residential fire deaths. In commercial
properties, arson is the major cause of deaths, injuries and dollar
Who is Most at Risk
- Senior citizens age 70 and over
and children under the age of 5 have the greatest risk of fire death.
- The fire death risk among
seniors is more than double the average population.
- The fire death risk for
children under age 5 is nearly double the risk of the average
- Children under the age of 10
accounted for an estimated 17 percent of all fire deaths in 1996.
- Men die or are injured in fires
almost twice as often as women.
- African Americans and American
Indians have significantly higher death rates per capita than the
- Although African Americans
comprise 13 percent of the population, they account for 26 percent of
What Saves Lives
- A working smoke alarm
dramatically increases a person's chance of surviving a fire.
- Approximately 88 percent of
U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm. However, these alarms are not
always properly maintained and as a result might not work in an
emergency. There has been a disturbing increase over the last ten years
in the number of fires that occur in homes with non-functioning alarms.
- It is estimated that over 40
percent of residential fires and three-fifths of residential fatalities
occur in homes with no smoke alarms.
- Residential sprinklers have
become more cost effective for homes. Currently, few homes are protected
Source: National Fire
Protection Association 1998 Fire Loss in the U.S. and Fire in
the United States 1987-1996 11th Edition
Fire-Home Escape Plan
Out Safely: A Factsheet on Fire Escape Planning
Department of Agriculture
& Forestry (DAF)
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