Stores and other mercantile properties

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Report: NFPA's "Structure Fires in Stores and Other Mercantile Properties"
Author: Richard Campbell
Issued: December 2015

Stores and other mercantile properties include an assortment of different types of stores, facilities providing personal services such as barber and beauty shops, laundry or dry cleaning shops, service stations, vehicle or other repair shops, and businesses selling professional supplies or services, retail stores, and recreational, hobby, home repair sales, or pet stores. Based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System and the NFPA Fire Experience Survey, we estimated annual fires and losses during 2009-2013. 

Report highlights

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 13,570 structure fires in stores and other mercantile properties per year, which accounts for 3% of all structure fires. 
  • These fires caused an annual average of 12 civilian deaths, 299 civilian fire injuries, and $604 million in direct property damage (6% of total property damage in all structure fires).
  • Fires are more common during the day, but property damage is greater during customary off-hours. Fires that occurred between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. caused an average of $73,800 of property damage each, while those occurring between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. caused an average of $33,900 of property loss each.
  • Electrical failure or malfunction was a factor contributing to the ignition of 22% of fires, accounting for 16% of civilian injuries and 26% of direct property damage. 


Structure fires in stores and other mercantile properties 2009-2013