Fire in the United States
  • The U.S. has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized
  • About 5,000 people die every year in the U.S. as the result of fire, and
    another 25,500 are injured.
  • About 100 firefighters are killed annually 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% of all fire deaths occur in residences.
  • More than 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 $9.4 billion annually.
    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 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 detectors and
      smolder-resistant bedding and upholstered furniture are significant fire
    • Heating is the second leading cause of residential fires and ties with
      arson as 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 the third leading cause of residential fires and a leading cause
      of residential fire deaths. In commercial properties, arson is the major
      cause of deaths, injuries, and dollar loss.
    Persons Most at Risk
    • Senior citizens and children under the age of five have the greatest risk
      of fire death.
    • The fire death risk among seniors is more than double the average
    • The fire death risk for children under the age of five is nearly double
      the risk of the average population.
    • Over 30% of the fires that kill young children are started by children
      playing with fire.
    • Men die or are injured in fires twice as often as women.
    Smoke Detectors
    • Having a working smoke detector more than doubles a person’s chances of
      surviving a fire. One detector is definitely not enough… every home should
      be equipped with smoke detectors on all levels, particularly outside of
      sleeping areas.
    • Approximately 90% of U.S. homes have at least one smoke detector; however,
      these detectors are not always properly maintained and as a result may not
      work in an emergency.
    • It is estimated that over 40% of residential fires and 3/5 of residential
      fatalities occur in homes with no smoke detectors.
    Automatic Sprinkler Systems
    • Once a fire starts, most fire experts agree that the most effective way to
      minimize fire deaths and losses is through the use of both automatic
      sprinklers and smoke detectors.
    • Automatic sprinkler systems have been in use in the United States since
      1874, and their record for extinguishing fires, saving lives, and protecting
      property is outstanding.
    • Automatic sprinklers were first introduced in commercial buildings to
      protect property. In the last two decades, building codes have increasingly
      called for the installation of sprinkler systems in certain types of
      buildings – not merely to protect property – but to save lives.
    • In addition to drastically reducing lives and property loss due to fires,
      automatic sprinkler systems:
  • Decrease the risk to firefighters by controlling fires at
    “safer” levels
  • Decrease fire insurance costs for the city
  • Save billions of gallons of municipal water used in fighting fires by
    conventional means
  • Increase a community’s total fire protection security
  • SOURCE: Federal Emergency Management Agency, United States Fire


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