NFPA: Home Structure Fires 2013 — 2017

Cooking was the leading cause of
home fires and injuries

National Fire Protection Association

People feel safe when they are at home, yet more than one-quarter (27 percent) of reported fires occurred in home environments during 2013—2017. Even worse, four of every five (79 percent) fire deaths and three-quarters (73 percent) of all reported fire injuries were caused by home structure fires.

During this five-year period, US fire departments responded to an estimated average of 354,400 home structure fires per year. These fires caused an annual average of 2,620 civilian deaths; 11,220 civilian fire injuries; and $6.9 billion in direct property damage.

Sixty-nine percent of reported home fires in 2013—2017 were in one- or two-family homes, including manufactured homes. These fires caused 85 percent of home fire deaths, 65 percent of home fire injuries, and 79 percent of the direct property damage from home fires.

Certain scenarios appear more dangerous than in the past. The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires in 2013—2017 was more than twice as high in fires that began with the ignition of either upholstered furniture or mattresses and bedding as it was in 1980—1984.

Most home fires and fire casualties result from five causes: cooking, heating, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, intentional fire setting, and smoking materials. Over the five-year period of 2013—2017 as a whole, cooking was the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, while smoking was the leading cause of home fire deaths.

While reported home fires and home fire deaths have been cut roughly in half since 1980, and population-based home fire and fire death rates have fallen by roughly two-thirds, the death rate per 1,000 reported home fires has remained fairly consistent, and was slightly higher in most recent years than it was in 1980. This was driven by an even more pronounced increase in the death rate in one- or two-family home fires. It appears that most of the reduction in fire deaths over the past decades has been due to a reduction in fires rather than the prevention of harm after a fire is reported.

Read the Report: Home Structure Fires

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