NFPA Report: 60 Percent of Home Fire Deaths in Properties Without Working Smoke Alarms

The chief reasons installed alarms fail to operate are missing, disconnected, or dead batteries.

A recent "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" report from NFPA indicates three out of every five home fire deaths in the United States occurs in a structure that lacks working smoke alarms. NFPA’s executive summary of the report also says phone surveys, including 2008 and 2010 surveys conducted for NFPA by Harris and a Consumer Product Safety Commission 2004-2005 survey, "found that 96-97% of the surveyed U.S. households reported having at least one smoke alarm. Based on these results, almost five million households still do not have any smoke alarms."

In 2007-2011, 37 percent of home fire deaths resulted from fires during which no smoke alarms were present, and 23 percent of the deaths were caused by fires in properties where alarms were present but did not operate, according to the summary, which also says smoke alarms operated in fires that caused 40 percent of home fire deaths during the period.

The bottom line is that having working smoke alarms in place cuts the risk of dying in reported home structure fires in half. The chief reasons installed alarms fail to operate are missing, disconnected, or dead batteries.

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    January / February 2020

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