NFPA Home Fire Statistics

Four of every five fire deaths result from home (one-or two-family dwellings, apartments or manufactured housing) fires. Two-thirds of all fire deaths result from fires one- or two-family dwellings or manufactured housing.

Most fatal fires kill one or two people only. In 1999, 2,895 people died as a result of home fires; only 21 home fires killed five or more people. These 21 fires accounted for only 115, or 4%, of the home fire deaths.

The statistics below are based on annual averages for the five year period from 1993 through 1997:

  • Half of all home fire deaths result from fires that were reported between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Only one-fourth of the home fires occur during these hours.
  • January is the peak month for home fire deaths. February ranks second, and December is third.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths overall, but in the winter months of December, January and February, smoking and heating equipment cause similar shares of the fire deaths. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
  • Only one-fifth of the home fire deaths were caused by fires in which a smoke alarm was present and operated.
  • Although children five and under make up about 9% of the country’s population, they account for 19% of the home fire deaths, giving these youngsters a risk twice that of the general population. Adults 65 and over also face a risk twice that of the general population. People over 65 have a risk that is almost five times as great as average.

Home fire deaths have fallen 44% from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,895 in 1999.

NFPA Cooking Leading Cause of Home Fires

Cooking was involved in an estimated 146,400 home structure fires in the United States in 2005, according to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report released March 18, 2008. Cooking fires accounted for 40 percent of the home structure fires in 2005, and these cooking fires resulted in 480 deaths, 4,690 injuries, and $876 million in direct property damage. our of every five fire deaths result from home (one-or two-family dwellings, apartments or manufactured housing) fires.

According to Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment report, cooking equipment left unattended was a factor in ignition in 38 percent of home structure fires for 2002-2005. Unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in home cooking fires, followed by combustibles too close to a heat source, and equipment being unintentionally turned on or not turned off.

Cooking was also the leading cause of home fire injuries, accounting for 36 percent of home structure fire injuries in 2005. These injuries were especially likely to occur during attempts to fight the fire. In home structure fires involving cooking equipment for 2002-2005, 59 percent of injuries occurred while fighting the fire, compared to 35 percent of injuries in all other types of home structure fires.

“Cooking results in more home fires and fire injuries in the United States each year than anything else and nearly all of these fires can be prevented with a little extra care,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “Simply paying attention when you are cooking will keep your dinner and everything else from getting burned.”

Home cooking fires peak between 5 and 7 p.m. Extra cooking, as on major U.S. holidays, often means extra home cooking fires. Typically, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.

NFPA offers the following safety tips.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, boxes, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
  • Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

Source: National estimates based on NFIRS and NFPA survey. These are fires reported to U.S. municipal fire departments and so exclude fires reported only to federal or state agencies or industrial fire brigades.

© 1999-2000, NFPA