Fires in the United States killed one person every two and a half hours

Published on September 9, 2008
NFPA Journal publishes statistics on fire loss nationwide during 2007

September 9, 2008 – Findings from the newly released report on the U.S. fire loss for 2007 are available in the latest issue of NFPA Journal, the official magazine of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). According to this overview of the U.S. fire experience, fires killed one person every two and half hours last year.

Fire departments responded to 1.6 million fires, the lowest total since 2004. Although the number of fires declined, fire deaths and injuries increased. Home fire deaths accounted for more than eight in 10 of all fire deaths, yet even with an 11 percent increase from the previous year, the number of home fire deaths was the third lowest since 1977. In 2007, fires caused an estimated $14 billion in property damage, a nearly 30 percent increase from the previous year.

Other key findings from the report:

Fires - number/frequency 

  1. 1,557,500 fires were attended by public fire departments, a decrease of 5.2 percent from the year before.
  2. 530,500 fires occurred in structures, an increase of 1.2 percent.
  3. 414,000 fires or 78 percent of all structure fires occurred in residential properties.
  4. Every 20 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the nation. A fire occurs in a structure at the rate of one every 59 seconds, and in particular, a residential fire occurs every 76 seconds. Fires occur in vehicles at the rate of 1 every 122 seconds, and there's a fire in an outside property every 41 seconds.

Fire deaths

  1. 3,430 civilian fire deaths occurred in 2007, an increase of 5.7 percent.
  2. About 84 per cent of all fire deaths (2,865) occurred in the home, an increase of 11 percent.
  3. 365 civilians died in highway vehicle fires, a decrease of 18 percent.
  4. 105 civilians died in nonresidential structure fires.

Fire injuries

  1. 17,675 civilian fire injuries occurred, an increase of 7.8 percent.
  2. 14,000 injuries occurred in residential properties, an increase of 8.3 percent.
  3. 1,350 injuries occurred in nonresidential structure fires.
  4. Nationwide, there was a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes.

Property damage

  1. An estimated $14,639,000,000 in property damage occurred as a result of fire in 2007, a highly significant increase of 29.5 percent from last year. This total figure includes the California Fire Storm 2007 with an estimated property damage of $1,800,000,000. Excluding the California Fire Storm, total property loss still increased a significant 13.5 percent.
  2. $10,638,000,000 of property damage occurred in structure fires, excluding structures associated with the California Fire Storm.
  3. $7,546,000,000 of property loss occurred in residential properties, an increase of 8 per cent.

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NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275