USFA Releases International Fire Death Rate Trends Report

From 1979 to 2007, fire death rates per million population have consistently fallen throughout the industrialized world.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) announces the release of a special report examining the nature of the United States fire death problem and compares it to other industrialized nations.

The report, Fire Death Rate Trends: An International Perspective, was developed by USFA's National Fire Data Center. The analyses in this report reveal the magnitude of the fire death problem, trends in overall rates, and differences between the countries are also explored. The report is part of the Topical Fire Report Series and is based on fire death data from the World Fire Statistics Center and U.N. Demographic Yearbook population estimate data.

In 2007, the United States had the 10th highest death rate of the 24 nations studied, putting it at the bottom of the top half. With 12.4 deaths per million population, the United States rate of fire deaths was much smaller than that of Finland, the nation with the highest death rate, recording 18 deaths per million population. In spite of this, the United States fire death rate is still at least double that of eight of the nations included: Switzerland, Singapore, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Spain, and Germany. In addition, the United States death rate is more than six times that of Switzerland, the nation with the lowest rate of all the countries considered; only two deaths per million population. Further research may reveal the source of these differences. They could be due to a number of factors, including differences in lifestyle, cultural attitudes towards fire, fire prevention practices and education, and building practices and regulations.

According to the report:

  • From 1979 to 2007, fire death rates per million population have consistently fallen throughout the industrialized world. The North American and Eastern European regions' fire death rates have fallen faster than other regions.
  • From 1979 to 2007, the fire death rate in the United States declined by 66 percent. Today, the United States still has one of the higher fire death rates in the industrialized world, even though its standing has greatly improved.
  • Japan, a leader in fire safety, shows a slight worsening of fire death rates over the years studied.

Topical reports generally explore facets of the U.S. fire problem as depicted through data collected in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). Each topical 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.

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