NFPA: Fires Claimed a Life Every 2.5 Hours Last Year

In 2007, public fire departments responded to 1,557,500 fires in the United States, according to estimates based on data the National Fire Protection Association received from fire departments responding to its 2007 National Fire Experience Survey. This represents a decrease of 5.2 percent from the year before, and is the lowest total since 2004, when fire departments responded to 1,550,500 fires. Despite this decrease in number of incidents, fire deaths and injuries actually increased, with fires killing one person every two and half hours last year.

Home fire deaths accounted for more than eight in 10 of all fire deaths, yet even with an 11 percent increase from the previous year, the number of home fire deaths was the third lowest since 1977. In 2007, fires caused an estimated $14 billion in property damage, a nearly 30 percent increase from the previous year. Of the roughly 1.6 million fires to which fire departments responded last year, 530,500 fires occurred in structures, an increase of 1.2 percent. In all, 414,000 fires or 78 percent of all structure fires occurred in residential properties. To put the data in perspective, NFPA says a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the nation every 20 seconds. A fire occurs in a structure at the rate of one every 59 seconds, and in particular, a residential fire occurs every 76 seconds. Fires occur in vehicles at the rate of 1 every 122 seconds, and there's a fire in an outside property every 41 seconds.

For all of last year, 3,430 civilian fire deaths occurred, an increase of 5.7 percent. About 84 percent of all fire deaths (2,865) occurred in the home, an increase of 11 percent, and 365 civilians died in highway vehicle fires, a decrease of 18 percent. In addition, 105 civilians died in nonresidential structure fires. Meanwhile, the number of fire injuries increased 7.8 percent over the previous year to a total of 17,675; of those, 14,000 injuries occurred in residential properties, an increase of 8.3 percent. Nonresidential structure fires accounted for 1,350 injuries. Nationwide, there was a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes.

Findings from the newly released report are available in the latest issue of NFPA Journal and available online at www.nfpa.org/publicJournalDetail.asp?categoryID=1674&itemID=40244&src=NFPAJournal.

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