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NFPA: Fewer fires, more fire deaths in 2010

September 19, 2011

Fires in U.S. decreasedThe number of fires in the U.S. decreased slightly in 2010, although the number of deaths caused by those fires was up, according to a report just issued by the National Fire Protection Association.

Fire Loss in the U.S. says public fire departments responded to 1,331,500 last year -- the lowest number since 1977.

These fires caused an estimated 3,120 civilian fire deaths, a 4 percent increase from a year ago; an estimated 17,720 civilian fire injuries, also a 4 percent increase from the previous year; and more than $11.5 billion in property damage, a significant decrease from the year before.

There were an estimated 482,000 structure fires reported to fire departments in 2010, a very slight increase from a year ago. The number of structure fires was at their peak in 1977, the first year that NFPA implemented its current survey methodology, when 1,098,000 structure fires occurred.

“We have made tremendous progress in reducing the fire problem in the United States since we began looking at these numbers in the late 70’s,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Communications for NFPA. “But this report shows us that more must be done to bring the numbers down even further. We continue to see the vast majority of deaths occurring in homes, a place where people often feel safest. These survey results will be combined with data from the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) to determine how often specific fire circumstances occur and where we can most effectively focus our efforts.”

Other key findings from the report include:
• A fire department responded to a fire every 24 seconds.
• 384,000 fires or 80 percent of all structure fires occurred in residential properties.
• About 85 percent of all fire deaths occurred in the home.
• 215,500 vehicle fires occurred in the U.S. during 2010, causing 310 civilian fire deaths, 1,590 civilian fire injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage.
• 634,000 outside and other fires occurred in the U.S. during 2010 causing $501 million in property damage.

The complete report is available at:  “Fire Loss in the United States during 2010.”The NFPA analyzed 2010 figures for fires, civilian fire deaths, injuries, property damage, and intentionally set fires based on data collected from fire departments that responded to the association’s annual survey.