USFA Releases Residential Building Fires Report

Cooking is the leading cause of residential building fires (45 percent). Nearly all residential building cooking fires are small, confined fires (94 percent).

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has released a report focusing on the causes and characteristics of fires in residential buildings. The report, “Residential Building Fires (2008-2010),” was developed by USFA's National Fire Data Center. Residential buildings include what are commonly referred to as "homes," whether they are one- or two-family dwellings or multifamily buildings. It also includes manufactured housing, hotels and motels, residential hotels, dormitories, assisted living facilities, and halfway houses.

According to the report:

  • An estimated 365,500 residential building fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 2,560 deaths, 13,000 injuries, and $7.4 billion in property loss.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of residential building fires (45 percent). Nearly all residential building cooking fires are small, confined fires (94 percent).
  • Residential building fire incidence is higher in the cooler months, peaking in January at 11 percent.
  • Residential building fires occur most frequently in the early evening hours, peaking during the dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m., when cooking fires are high.
  • Forty-seven percent of non-confined residential building fires extend beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of these larger fires are electrical malfunctions (16 percent), unintentional or careless actions (16 percent), intentional (12 percent), and open flame (11 percent).
  • Smoke alarms were not present in 22 percent of the larger, non-confined fires in occupied residential buildings.

Click here to view the full report.

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