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Playing with fire

Report: NFPA's "Playing with Fire: Non-Structure Fires" and "Playing with Fire: Structure Fires"
Author: Richard Campbell
Issued: March 2021

 

Highlights

Playing with Fire: All Incidents

Fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 30,460 fires caused by playing with fire in 2014-2018.  These fires resulted in an estimated 50 deaths, 510 injuries, and $205 million in direct property damage each year.

Most of these fires did not involve structures, including outside or unclassified fires, outside trash or rubbish fires, and vehicle fires (73%).

Over one-quarter were structure fires and these accounted for the largest shares of losses from the fires caused by fire play, including all of the deaths and most of the civilian injuries (89%) and the majority of damage (70%).

Playing with Fire: Structure Fires

Fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 8,100 structure fires caused by playing with fire in 2014-1018.  These fires resulted in an estimated 50 civilian deaths, 450 civilian injuries, and $143 million in direct property damage each year.

In 2014-2018, playing with fire is estimated to have caused 4,960 home structure fires each year, with associated losses of 50 civilian deaths, 398 civilian injuries, and $112 in direct property damage each year. The bedroom was the most common area of origin for home fires involving playing with fire, accounting for one-third (34%) of the total.

More than four of five home structure fires caused by playing with fire were started by children ten years of age or younger.

Playing with Fire: Non-Structure Fires

Fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 22,350 non-structure fires each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in an estimated 60 civilian injuries and $62 million in direct property damage each year.

Nearly three in ten of the non-structure fires and even greater shares of losses involved outside or unclassified fires. 

Males were the fire setters in nine of ten outside or unclassified fires caused by playing with fire and over half of fire setters were eleven to seventeen years of age and just two percent of fire setters were five years of age or younger. 

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