Human factors contributing to fatal injury

Report: NFPA's "Human Factors Contributing to Fatal Injury Based on NFIRS 5.0 Field in Civilian Casuality Module"
Ben Evarts
Issued: June 2011

This report compares fatal home fire victims with five different human factors contributing to the fatal injury: asleep, possibly impaired by alcohol or drugs, physically disabled; possibly mentally disabled, and unattended or unsupervised child under 10 years old, with all home fire victims on a variety of fire causes and circumstances.

Executive Summary

The fire safety field works hard to improve its understanding of and to mitigate circumstances that prevent individuals from surviving home fires. Individual circumstances and characteristics of victims often play crucial roles in the outcome. During 2005-2009, one or more human factors contributed to an estimated average of 1,610, or 61%, of the 2,650 fatal home fire injuries. 

This analysis will examine the fire circumstances and characteristics of the victims for five human factors or combination of human factors contributing to fatal injury, including:

  • Asleep, a factor in 790, or 30%, of home fire deaths;
  • Possibly impaired by alcohol or drugs or other chemical (or both), a factor in 380, or 14%, of the deaths;
  • Physically disabled, a factor in 380, or 14% of the home fire deaths;
  • Possibly mentally disabled, a factor in 120, or 5%, of the deaths;
  • Unattended or unsupervised child under 10 years of age, a factor in 60, or 2%, of the home fire deaths. Unattended or unsupervised was also cited as a factor in deaths of people with disabilities.

This report compares the circumstances and characteristics of these five factors with each other and with all home fire victims. Reports examining fatalities with physical disability and with possible impairment by alcohol or drugs were recently published. These reports contain additional detail and can be found at the research section of our website.