Candles

Report: NFPA's "Home Candle Fires"
Author: 
Marty Ahrens
Issued: December 2015

This report includes an analysis of causes of and trends in home fires started by candles that were reported to local fire departments in the U.S. The report includes estimates of candle fire frequency in other occupancies. Patterns of usage are also discussed, with particular emphasis on fires that occurred when candles are used for light. Relevant ASTM candle standards are also highlighted.  Previously published descriptions of candle fires are included to illustrate how these fires can occur. 

Report highlights 

  • In 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 9,300 home1 structure fires that were started by candles per year, which represents 3% of home structure fires.
  • Candle fires caused an annual average of:
    • 86 civilian fire deaths, or 3% of home fire deaths,
    • 827 civilian fire injuries, or 6% of reported home fire injuries, and
    • $374 million in direct property damage, or 5% of total direct damage in home structure fires.
  • More than one-third (36%) of home candle fires began in the bedroom, although the National Candle Association found that only 13% of candle users burn candles in the bedroom most often.
  • Almost three of every five (58%) candle fires started when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations, was too close to the candle.
  • The top four days for home candle fires were New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.

1Homes include one- or two-family homes and apartments or other multi-family housing.

Home candle fires by leading areas of origin 2009-2013

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700