Topic: Research

Playing With Fire

Two new NFPA reports separately examine fires in structures and those in non-structure fire incidents caused by playing with fire in 2014-2018. The report on structure fires finds that municipal fire departments responded to an estimated average of 8,100 structure fires each year in 2014-2018. that were caused by playing with fire. These fires caused an estimated 55 civilian deaths, 450 civilian injuries, and $112 million in direct property damage each year.  More than three in five structure fires caused by playing with fire occurred in residential properties, primarily in homes. Over one-third of the home fires originated in a bedroom and over half of these fires were caused by playing with a lighter.  Children under ten years of age were the fires setters in four of five home structure fires caused by playing with fire. Fortunately, home structure fires and losses have declined substantially over the past three decades, in large part due to a safety standard requiring disposable cigarette lighters to be resistant to operation by children since becoming effective in 1994. Playing with fire also caused an estimated 3,140 fires each year in structures other than homes, resulting in an average of five civilian deaths 50 civilian injuries, and $30 million in direct property damage each year.  As with home fires, the vast majority of the fires caused were started by children. However, over half of fire setters were in the older age group of 11 to 17 years, a much higher share than was the case for home fires.  Non-structure fires include outside or unclassified fires, outside trash or rubbish fires, and vehicle fires. The report on non-structure fires caused by fire play finds that there were a higher number of these incidents than those involving structures, but they result in substantially fewer casualties and property damage. According to the report, municipal fire departments to an estimated annual average of 22,350 non-structure fires caused by playing with fire each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in an estimated 58 civilian injuries and $62 million in direct property damage each year. Children were again the primary fire setters of non-structure fires, but they tended to be older that those who caused fires in structures through fire play. To download the full reports please visit our page, and for additional safety resources please visit our page here.

The Human Toll: Understanding the Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Issues Associated with Electrical Burn Injuries

NFPA has dedicated its efforts to raising awareness and helping educate workers, employers, and the public about the hazards associated with electricity both on the job and at home so that one day no one will have to suffer the effects of electrical burn injuries. Supporting ESFI and its annual Electrical Safety Month campaign provides an important platform for us to remind people about these hazards, but it is also an opportunity to share critical information about the physical, emotional, and psychological toll electrical injuries can take on a person and his/her families for months and years to come. Last fall we introduced a video campaign series in collaboration with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors called Faces of Fire/Electrical that is devoted to telling the personal stories of people affected by electrical injuries. Survivors like Don Johnson, who suffered third-degree burns on his face, neck, and arms due to an arc flash event that happened at work and who spent years recovering from his injuries; and Pam Elliott who shares her personal story of resilience after suffering major burns over 50 percent of her body after a fire ignited by a damaged lighting fixture destroyed her family home when she was just a young girl. Electrical hazards can affect anyone at any time if we are not careful. These stories and many more highlighted in the campaign serve as powerful reminders about the need for more recognition and understanding of the electrical hazards that exist in our daily lives. Here are a few additional resources we are highlighting this month that feature stories from survivors and the doctors who treat them: In February, NFPA released a podcast called the Mysteries of Electrical Injuries. In this sobering interview, Derek Vigstol, NFPA electrical content specialist, speaks with three renowned doctors from the Chicago Electrical Trauma Rehabilitation Institute about what an electrical shock can do to the human body, the treatments available, and how our understanding of the resulting injuries continues to evolve. It’s a discussion you definitely don’t want to miss. This month we are pleased to announce that one of the doctors featured in the “Mysteries” podcast, Dr. Neil Pliskin, will be joining an impressive lineup of experts when NFPA hosts its “Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety” program as part of the NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series. Dr. Pliskin’s session will focus on his work with electrical injury patients and the research associated with neuropsychological issues that can arise following electrical shock injuries. In a separate video, and as part of the Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign, we interviewed Dr. Victor Joe who works at UCI Health Regional Burn Center and sits on the Phoenix Society’s Board. In his interview, Dr. Joe discusses his passionate work to treat the complete physical and emotional healing of patients suffering from burn injuries. Join us during Electrical Safety Month in sharing this crucial information and spreading the word on how we can all reduce the risk of electrical injuries and create a safer world for all. You can find these resources and more like videos, checklists, and tip sheets, on our website.  
Green buildings

Research Foundation webinar on “Fire Safety Challenges of ‘Green’ Buildings and Attributes”

In 2012, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) published a literature review related to fire safety challenges of ‘green’ (sustainable) building materials, systems (technologies) and features. The aim of that work was to: identify documented fire incidents in ‘green’ buildings define a specific set of elements in ‘green’ building design, including configuration and materials, which, without mitigating strategies, increase fire risk, decrease safety or decrease building performance in comparison with ‘traditional’ construction identify and summarize existing best practice case studies in which the risk introduced by specific ‘green’ building design elements has been explicitly addressed and compile research studies related to incorporating building safety, life safety and fire safety as an explicit element in ‘green’ building indices, identifying gaps and specific needed research areas. Since 2012, there have been several major fire events, which involved ‘green’ materials, systems, and features (collectively, ‘green’ attributes) in buildings. Green design features have been associated with photovoltaic panels and roof materials, lightweight timber frame buildings, and combustible insulation materials. This webinar will present highlights from a comprehensive information review of how the landscape of fire safety challenges associated with “green” attributes of buildings has developed since 2012. It is based on a global information search into the following: fire events involving “green” and/or sustainable building materials, systems, and features emerging “green” building materials, systems, and features and research, regulatory changes, engineering approaches, risk mitigation strategies, and firefighting tactics associated with fire challenges with “green” and/or sustainable building materials, systems, and features. While the research is comprehensive in scope, it is not exhaustive in detail, given the extent of advancement in these areas that has occurred since 2012. And, while significant advancements have been made, gaps remain, and strategies for proactively incorporating fire performance into the development of new “green” building materials, systems, and features (product development) are lacking; the tools to proactively assess the fire performance of “green” building materials, systems, and features at the product level (e.g., fire performance testing), and as installed in buildings, are lacking; and a broader building regulatory framework and design philosophy for achieving sustainable and fire resilient (SAFR) buildings are also lacking. The final report from the most recent research effort is available here. Register for this webinar today. Visit for more upcoming NFPA & FPRF webinars and archives. When: Wednesday, April 14, 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Presenters: Brian Meacham, PhD, PE, Meacham Associates, and Margaret McNamee, PhD, Lund University.  This webinar is supported by the Research Foundation 2021 Webinar Series Sponsors: APA – The Engineered Wood Association AXA XL Risk Consulting Johnson Controls Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc. Telgian Engineering and Consulting The Zurich Services Corporation
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