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

Overview of the fire problem in stores and other mercantile properties, including trend tables, causes, time of day, day of week, month of year and area of origin. 

Executive Summary

During the five-year period of 2009-2013, NFPA estimates that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 13,570 structure fires in stores and other mercantile properties per year. These fires caused an annual average of 12 civilian deaths, 299 civilian fire injuries, and $604 million in direct property damage. 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.

Cooking equipment was the leading cause of these fires. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment ranked second, followed by intentionally set fires and heating equipment. 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. This finding underscores the importance of installing and maintaining automatic detection and suppression equipment to protect property.

These estimates are based on data from the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) annual fire department experience survey.  

Structure Fires in Stores and Other Mercantile Properties by Leading Cause


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