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The NFPA recently published an updated report on "The Total Cost of Fire in the United States," written by John R. Hall, Jr. The report includes human and economic losses, costs of the fire service, built-in fire protection, and costs associated with the insurance industry.
In 2009 the total cost of fire is estimated at $331 billion, or roughly 2.3% of U.S. gross domestic product. The components were as follows:
It should be clear that most of the analysis supporting these estimates is soft and has wide bands of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the conclusion that fire has a tremendous impact on the way the U.S. uses its resources is indisputable.
It also is clear that we have a dual interest in reducing U.S. fire losses – which include human losses that are among the highest per capita in the industrial world – and in seeking ways to achieve equivalent fire safety at lower costs, since the growth in total cost of fire has been led not by the fire losses but by the other cost components. This provides a clear indication of need for product innovations or other programs (e.g., residential sprinklers, educational programs) that can improve fire safety at the same or lower costs. It also shows the need for improved methods (e.g., models) for calculating fire performance and costs, so the implications of different choices can be considered and judged more comprehensively.
[Take a look at the full report and download the accompanying fact sheet. | http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=2471&itemID=55825&URL=Research/Statistical%20reports/Economic%20impacts/] NFPA members can download all NFPA reports for free, but they are also available for purchase.