USFA Releases University Housing Fires Report

An estimated average of 3,800 university housing fires occur each year. Annually, these fires are responsible for 25 injuries and $9 million in property loss.

FEMA’s United States Fire Administration (USFA) has issued a special report focusing on the causes and characteristics of fires in college and university residential buildings that include dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses. The report, University Housing Fires (2007-2009), was developed by the National Fire Data Center and is a part of USFA's Topical Fire Report series. An estimated average of 3,800 university housing fires occur each year. Annually, these fires are responsible for 25 injuries and $9 million in property loss. This report is based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

According to the report:

  • 95 percent of university housing fires occur in dormitories or dormitory-type residences, and 5 percent occur in fraternity and sorority houses.
  • University housing fires occur most frequently in the late summer and fall - peaking in September—and mainly in the early evening hours between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., when students prepare snacks or cook meals.
  • Cooking accounts for 88 percent of all university housing fires and is the leading cause.
  • Confined cooking fires, those confined to the container, account for 81 percent of all university housing fires.

Topical Fire Reports are designed to explore facets of the U.S. fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. Each report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information. Also included are recent examples of fire incidents that demonstrate some of the issues addressed in the report or that put the report topic in context.

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