Deadly fires prompt national warning

Published on March 31, 2008
Fire safety experts say most home fires preventable

Washington, DC –  March 31, 2008  Fires strike across the country, killing on the average nine people each day (one every 162 minutes) and injuring thousands.  Each one is a tragedy, and just within the past two weeks we have seen several particularly horrific ones. Five children died in a house fire in Arkansas, six people were killed in two fires within days of each other in New Hampshire and four more died in Alaska.Fires in Arizona, California, Iowa, New York, Colorado, Michigan, Washington and Delawarehave claimed lives, all within just the past few days. On average, more than 3,200 people are killed in fires and 16,400 are injured each year and, ironically, over 82% of these deaths occur in the very place that people feel the safest from fire – their homes. These are tragedies for the families, the communities, the nation.

So often these fires and their fateful outcomes are avoidable through the use of proven fire prevention strategies and education. By making the public more aware of the role that they have in helping to build a fire-safe community we can make tremendous strides, one home at a time, towards reducing the loss of life and property that occurs every single year.

We have joined together to redouble our efforts to reach out to people across the nation to raise the national awareness of fire prevention. We know, without a doubt, that by educating our citizens about fire-safe practices and what to do if a fire should break out we can reduce the losses in our communities and work towards a fire-safe future for today’s generation and beyond. Each of the organizations listed is committed to a simple mission – saving lives. Some of the actions are ones that can be done today, others are for the future. However, by starting right now, we can someday point back and say that it started today.

We have reduced fire deaths nationally during the last 20 years but the problem and sadness continues to exist. We believe that we can further reduce our national life loss in this area by focusing on these key areas:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your home. For the best protection interconnect them so when one sounds they all sound.
  • Test them monthly to make sure they are working at all times.
  • Residential sprinklers save lives. If you are building or remodeling, consider installing residential sprinklers in your home.
  • Smoking is one of the leading causes of fatal fires. If you smoke, put them out every time.
  • Cooking fires are the leading cause of all fires. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food.
  • Know two ways out, no matter where you are – your home, office, restaurant, movie theater.
  • Always react to a fire alarm immediately.

The Overall Fire Picture – 2006

  • There were 3,245 civilians that lost their lives as the result of fire.
  • Nationwide, there was a civilian fire death every 162 minutes.
  • There were 16,400 civilian injuries that occurred as the result of fire.
  • Nationwide, there was a civilian fire injury every 32 minutes.
  • There were 106 firefighters killed while on duty.
  • Fire killed more Americans than all natural disasters combined.
  • 82 percent of all civilian fire deaths occurred in homes.
  • 1.6 million fires were reported. Many others went unreported, causing additional injuries and property loss.
  • Every 19 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the nation.
  • Direct property loss due to fires was estimated at $11.3 billion.
  • An estimated 31,000 intentionally set structure fires resulted in 305 civilian deaths.
  • Intentionally set structure fires resulted in an estimated $755 million in property damage.

Source: National Fire Protection Association Fire Loss in the U.S. During 2006 and USFA's Firefighter Fatalities in the United Statesin 2006

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Contact: Ed Comeau, 413 323-6002

 

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