Smoke alarm

Almost three out of five home fire deaths were caused by fires with no working smoke alarms

NFPA recently published its latest edition of Smoke Alarms in US Home FiresThis report and its supporting tables provide the latest information on smoke alarms in home fires reported to local fire departments in the US. 

Smoke alarms were present in three-quarters (74 percent) of the reported home fires in 2014–2018. Almost three out of five home fire deaths were caused by fires in properties with no smoke alarms (41 percent) or smoke alarms that failed to operate (16 percent).

People who were fatally injured in home fires with working smoke alarms were more likely to have been in the area of origin and involved in the ignition, to have a disability, to be at least 65 years old, to have acted irrationally, or to have tried to fight the fire themselves. These victims were less likely to have been sleeping than those who died in fires in properties without working smoke alarms.

The death rate per 1,000 home structure fires was 55 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or alarms that fail to operate.

Missing or non-functional power sources, including missing or disconnected batteries, dead batteries, and disconnected hardwired alarms or other AC power issues, were the most common factors when smoke alarms failed to operate.

For more information and to stay informed on safety messages about smoke alarms please visit our free resources here.

Sign up for the NFPA Network Newsletter
Marty Ahrens
Fire Analysis Research Manager

Related Articles