Cooking-equipment related fires are a leading cause of U.S. fire loss. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2003-2006, for example, there were 150,200 reported home cooking related fires per year, with associated annual losses of 500 civilian deaths, 4,700 civilian injuries and $756 million in direct property damage.
Beginning in the mid 1980’s, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and home appliance industry undertook a comprehensive review of strategies to mitigate death, injury and property loss from cooking fires. All strategies were engineering strategies defined by a condition to be detected (e.g. overheat of pan or food in pan, absence of person actively engaged in cooking process, early-stage fire on stovetop) and an action to be taken (e.g., shut off cooking heat, sound alarm, suppress fire). As part of this study, a comprehensive review of existing technologies was done.
In February of 2010, a Vision 20/20 workshop on this topic was convened in Washington D.C. Participants recommended that a study be undertaken to identify the barriers to the utilization of these technologies and to develop an action plan towards improving cooking fire safety.
In 2010, the Foundation conducted a study supported by NIST to develop this action plan. The project culminated with a one day workshop of 35 leaders from the kitchen appliance, fire service, and user communities who met to review the study's findings and identify gaps in information. From the workshop the goal of the current project was identified: to develop standard cooking scenarios and to create candidate test methods and performance metrics to evaluate cooking fire mitigation technologies.
The technical work will be done by Hughes Associates, Inc. and will be completed in about a year. The final report of the study will be made available electronically to the general public through the Research current Foundation website and directly transmitted to the relevant standards development committees of UL, CSA and to the Vision 20/20 initiative on this topic.