Natural gas and LP gas (other than home)

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Report: NFPA's "Natural Gas and LP-Gas Structure Fires in Properties Other Than Homes"
Author: Jennifer D. Flynn
Issued: August 2007

An analysis of structure fires in properties other than homes in which type of material first ignited was either natural gas or LP-gas, during 2000-2004. Fires are examined by time, day, and month, as well as leading causes, factors contributing to ignition, and extent of flame damage.

Executive Summary

In Version 5.0 of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS,) natural gas, including methane and marsh gas is identified by type of material first ignited code 11. Properties Other than Homes in this analysis include all property types except: one- or two-family dwellings, manufactured homes, mobile homes not in transit, duplexes, and multifamily dwellings. Only fires reported to municipal fire departments are included in these statistics. Only fires in which natural gas was first ignited are included in this analysis. Fires in which natural gas contributed to the fire growth after ignition are not included.  Supporting tables are provided at the end of this section.

NFIRS 5.0 has six categories of confined structure fires, including cooking fires confined to the cooking vessel, confined chimney or flue fires, confined incinerator fire, confined fuel burner or boiler fire or delayed ignition, confined commercial compactor fire, and trash or rubbish fires in a structure with no flame damage to the structure or its contents. Although causal information is not required for these incidents, it is provided in some cases. Confined fires are analyzed separately from non-confined fires; estimates are based on the share with causal data. 

Natural gas was the type of material first ignited in and estimated annual average of 680 structure fires in properties other than homes per year in 2000-2004. 
During 2000-2004, an estimated 680 non-home structure fires occurred annually from the initial ignition of natural gas. These fires resulted in an annual average of 7 civilian fire deaths, 36 civilian fire injuries, and $37 million in direct property damage in 2000-2004. Explosions with no after-fire are not included. Table A provides a breakdown of losses by incident type, non-confined and confined fires.

In non-home properties, structure fires were the most common incident type. All civilian deaths reported during this time period occurred in structure fires for both occupancy groups. Seventy-four percent of civilian fire injuries involving natural gas in non-homes occurred in structure fires. Ninety-percent of direct property damage in non-homes occurred in structure fires.