Rural fire safety

Published on May 18, 2010
The U.S. Census Bureau defines a rural community as one with a population of fewer than 2,500  people. The primary characteristic of rural America is the separation of communities from one another and the separation of residents from one another.

The fire death rate of rural communities is roughly twice the rate of the rest of the United States. One out of four homes does not have working smoke alarms, and these homes have the most fire deaths.

Facts and figures

  • Heating is the leading cause of residential structure fires and deaths.
  • Fixed heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in most rural residential heating fires.
  • The leading cause of outside fires is open flame.

Source: NFPA/USFA Mitigation of the Rural Fire Problem report, December 2007.

In 2004–2008, the U.S. Fire Administration partnered with the National Fire Protection Association in a cooperative agreement project called Mitigation of the Rural Fire Problem. The purpose of the project was to examine what can be done to reduce the high death rate from fires in rural U.S. communities. The following educational materials were developed as part of the project: 

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