Fire Deaths in Homes Dropped nearly 10 Percent in 2001

Oct. 1, 2002
Good news. Fire deaths in U.S. homes dropped 9.1 percent last year from the previous year, according to a report released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In all, 3,110 victims perished in home fires, the place where most people feel safest, and another 3,086 fire fatalities occurred elsewhere, for a total of 6,196 fire deaths. Of these, 2,451 occurred due to fires started by the attacks on America on September 11.

Nationwide, there was a home fire death every 170 minutes, compared with every 153 minutes for the previous year. Overall, home fires have declined fairly steadily since 1978 and were down by nearly half in 2001 (48 percent). Only 1999 had a lower home fire death total (2,895) in the past quarter-century.

"We believe the decline in home fire deaths as evidenced from last year's data is attributed to increasing public safety education coupled with advances in fire-safety technology; these have made substantial progress in saving lives," said John R. Hall, Ph.D., NFPA's assistant vice president for fire analysis and research.

  • Number of fires: Every 18 seconds, a fire department responded to a fire somewhere in the United States in 2001. In all, there were 1,734,500 fires attended by public fire departments, a slight increase of 1.6 percent from the year before. Most of these fires were outside fires with very little loss involved, but 396,500 were home fires.
  • Injuries: Nationwide, there was a reported fire injury in the home every 34 minutes, compared with every 23 minutes in 2000. A total of 21,000 fire injuries were reported last year; 800 of these occurred in the September 11 attacks, and 15,575 occurred in structure fires in homes.
  • Property damage: In all, an estimated $43,983,000,000 in direct property damage occurred as a result of fire. $5,643,000,000 occurred from fires in homes, and $3,231,000,000 occurred in other structure fires, exclusive of the events of September 11.
  • Arson: An estimated 45,500 intentionally set structure fires occurred last year. Intentionally set fires resulted in $34,453,000,000 in property loss; $33,440,000,000 was due to the events of September 11, and $1,013,000,000 was from other set structure fires. There were 39,500 intentionally set vehicle fires, which caused $219,000,000 in property damage.
  • Outside fires: There were 861,500 outside fires in 2001. In particular last year, brush and grass fires decreased 9 percent, to 414,000.
  • Events of September 11: Fatalities from all the events from September 11 are included in the report because the effects of fire led to the collapses and destruction.

Since 1977, NFPA has collected data from U.S. fire departments to produce the yearly Fire Loss report, which cites fire data relating to deaths, injuries, locations, trends and analyses.

The full report is available from NFPA's Web site at www.nfpa.org/Research/OneStopDataShop/Reports/FireStats/FireStats.asp#free.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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