Home Safety

Fire Safety


Fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined. Every year more than 3,000 people die in fires, around 18,000 are injured, and direct property loss is estimated at over $12 billion. Fortunately, most fire losses can be prevented through effective public education and awareness initiatives.

Many Americans believe “fires can only happen to other people – not to me and not in my home.” Yet, over 80 percent of fire deaths occur in the home, most often claiming the lives of the young, the elderly and the disadvantaged.

Fire in the United States


The U.S. has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world. For 2009, the U.S. fire death rate was 9.8 deaths per million population.

In 2009, over 3000 Americans lost their lives and another 17,050 were injured 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 1.5 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 $7.8 billion annually.

Where Fires Occur


There were 1,348,500 fires in the United States in 2009. Of these:

48% were Outside or Other Types of Fires

36% were Structure Fires

16% were Vehicle Fires

Residential fires represent 22 percent of all fires and 78 percent of structure fires.

Fires in 1-2 family dwellings most often start in the:

1. Kitchen 41%

2. Bedroom 8%

3. Living Room 4%<

4. Chimney 6%

5. Laundry Area 3%

92 percent of all structure fire 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

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 the third leading cause of residential fires. In commercial properties, arson is the major cause of deaths, injuries and dollar loss.

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 population.

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 national average.

Although African Americans comprise 13 percent of the population, they account for 26 percent of fire deaths.

What Saves Lives


A working smoke alarm dramatically increases a person’s chance of surviving a fire.

Approximately 96 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 by them.

Source: National Fire Protection Association 2009 Fire Loss in the U.S. and Fire in the United States

Resource: United States Fire Administration