On August 19th, the USFA, an entity of the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a special report - Fatal Fires in Residential Buildings, examining the characteristics of these fires from 2006-2008.
The USFA informs that this document is “further evidence of FEMA's commitment to sharing information with fire departments and first responders around the country to help them keep their communities safe.”
- An estimated 1,800 fatal residential building fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 2,635 deaths, 725 injuries, and $196 million in property loss.
- Fatal residential building fires tend to be larger, cause more damage, and have higher injury rates than nonfatal residential fires.
- Smoking is the leading cause of fatal residential building fires (19 percent).
- The leading areas of fire origin in fatal residential building fires are bedrooms (27 percent) and common areas such as living and family rooms (23 percent).
- Fatal residential building fires are more prevalent in the cooler months, peaking in January (13 percent).
- Fatal residential building fires occur most frequently in the late evening and early morning hours, peaking from midnight to 5 a.m. One-third (33 percent) of fatal residential fires occur during these 5 hours.
“Residential buildings” in the report include; one- and two-family homes,multifamily homes, boarding/rooming houses, hotel, motels, and other residential buildings. However, it is important to note that 80 percent of fatal residential fires occured in one- and two-family homes.
The report is a “must read” and one more tool in the arsenal of information regarding fire death, injury and property loss in residential buildings; especially as it refers to one- and two-family homes and the demonstrated need for home fire sprinklers as the next step in reducing home fire death and injury risk.