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.