Fire

Fire

FIRE LOSSES

Great strides have been made in constructing fire resistant buildings, reducing the incidence of fires and improving fire suppression techniques. However, in terms of property losses, these advances have been somewhat offset by increases in the number and value of buildings. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2013, on average, a fire department responded to a fire every 25 seconds in the United States. A structure fire occurs every 65 seconds; a residential fire occurs every 85 seconds and an outside property fire occurs every 56 seconds.

FIRE LOSSES IN THE UNITED STATES, 2004-2013 (1)

Year Property loss ($ millions) Loss per capita (2)
2004 $17,344 $59.23
2005 20,427 69.12
2006 20,340 68.17
2007 24,399 81.00
2008 24,734 81.34
2009 22,911 74.68
2010 20,486 66.23
2011 19,511 62.62
2012 23,977 76.39
2013 19,301 61.05

(1) Including allowances for FAIR Plan and uninsured losses.
(2) Calculated by the Insurance Information Institute using ISO property loss and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.

Source: ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® company; U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.

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FIRE LOSSES IN THE UNITED STATES, BY LINE OF INSURANCE, 2013 (1)

(1) Estimated. Includes FAIR plan and uninsured losses.

Source: ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® company.

 

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STRUCTURE FIRES

There are about a half million fires in structures each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In 2011, 80 percent of structure fires were in residential properties and 20 percent were in non-residential structures, including storage facilities, stores and offices, and industrial properties, and public assembly. Public assembly fires include fires in eating and drinking places and other entertainment venues, houses of worship and other places where people congregate. There are approximately 7,600 structure fires in eating and drinking establishments each year, according to a NFPA report based on data between 2006 and 2010.

According to the NFPA, fires in nightclubs are among the most deadly public occupancy fires, because they contain a large number of people in one main space. In January, 2013 a deadly nightclub fire in Brazil claimed over 230 lives, making it one of the most deadly nightclub fires on record. The deadliest nightclub fire in world history was the 1903 Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago, Illinois in which 602 people were killed, followed by a 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston, Massachusetts which claimed 492 lives and a fire at the Conway's Theater in Brooklyn, New York in 1876 which killed 285 people. The 2003 Station Fire in Rhode Island claimed 100 lives, and ranks as number eight. The complete top ten ranking is posted at NFPA: Nightclub Fires.

 

STRUCTURE FIRES, 2004-2013 (1)

Year Number of fires Year Number of fires
2004 526,000 2009 480,500
2005 511,000 2010 482,000
2006 524,000 2011 484,500
2007 530,500 2012 480,500
2008 515,000 2013 487,500

(1) Includes public assembly, educational, institutional and residential structures, stores and offices, industry, utility, defense, storage and special structures.

Source: 2012-2013 data reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2013 by Michael J. Karter, Jr., ©National Fire Protection Association; earlier data from prior reports. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

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STRUCTURE FIRES BY TYPE OF USE, 2013 (1)

Property use Estimated number
of fires
Percent change
from 2012
Property loss (2)
($ millions)
Percent change
from 2012
Public assembly 12,500 4.2% $369 31.3%
Educational 5,500 10.0 66 -3.1
Institutional 6,000 (3) 42 20.0
Residential 387,000 1.6 6,969 -3.2
     1 and 2 family homes (4) 271,500 1.3 5,626 -3.3
     Apartments 98,000 1.0 1,166 -2.2
     Other (5) 17,500 9.4 177 -6.4
Stores and offices 18,000 2.9 611 -5.0
Industry, utility, defense (6)      8,500  -5.6 637   -5.8
Storage in structures 26,000 -8.8 692 -7.9
Special structures 24,000 11.6 140 10.2
Total 487,500 1.5% $9,526 -2.6%

(1) Estimates based on data reported by fire departments responding to the 2013 National Fire Experience Survey. May exclude reports from all fire departments.
(2) Includes overall direct property loss to contents, structures, vehicles, machinery, vegetation or any other property involved in a fire. Excludes indirect losses, such as business interruption or temporary shelter costs.
(3) Less than 0.1 percent.
(4) Includes manufactured homes.
(5) Includes hotels and motels, college dormitories, boarding houses, etc.
(6) Excludes incidents handled only by private brigades or fixed suppression systems.

Source: 2012-2013 data reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2013 by Michael J. Karter, Jr., ©National Fire Protection Association; earlier data from prior reports. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

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CIVILIAN (NONFIREFIGHTER) FIRE DEATHS AND INJURIES BY PROPERTY USE, 2013

 

Property use Civilian fire
deaths
Percent change
from 2012
Percent of all
civilian fire deaths
Civilian fire
injuries
Residential 2,785 15.8% 85.9% 12,575
     1 and 2 family homes (1)   2,430 21.5 75.0 8,300
     Apartments   325 -14.5 10.0 3,900
     Other residential (2) 30 20.0 0.9 375
Nonresidential structures (3) 70 7.7 2.2 1,500
Highway vehicles   300 (4) 9.3 925
Other vehicles (5) 20 -20.0 0.6 125
All other fires (6)  65 8.3 2.0 800
Total   3,240 13.5% 100.0% 15,925

(1) Includes manufactured homes.
(2) Includes hotels and motels, college dormitories, boarding houses, etc.
(3) Includes public assembly, educational, institutional, store and office, industry, utility, storage and special structure properties.
(4) Less than 0.1 percent.
(5) Includes trains, boats, ships, farm vehicles and construction vehicles.
(6) Includes outside properties with value, as well as brush, rubbish and other outside locations.

Source: 2012-2013 data reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2013 by Michael J. Karter, Jr., ©National Fire Protection Association; earlier data from prior reports. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

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THE TEN MOST COSTLY LARGE-LOSS FIRES, 2013

($ millions)

Rank Month State Type of facility Estimated loss
1 June Colorado Wildfire $421
2 April  Texas Fertilizer manufacturing 100
3 April Connecticut Single-family home 50
4 January Wisconsin Egg processing plant 40
5 April Arkansas Aluminum die cast manufacturing 30
6 June Indiana Warehouse 20
7 July California Tunnel 17
8 October California Apartment building 15
9 December California Wildfire 15
10 February  Missouri Restaurant 15

Source: Reproduced with permission from Large-Loss Fires in the United States, 2013 by Stephen G. Badger, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

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THE TEN MOST COSTLY LARGE-LOSS FIRES IN U.S. HISTORY

($ millions)

      Estimated loss (1)
Rank Date Location/event Dollars when occurred In 2013 dollars (2)
1 Sep. 11, 2001 World Trade Center (terrorist attacks) $33,400 (3) $44,000 (3)
2 Apr. 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 350 9,000
3 Oct. 8-9, 1871 Great Chicago Fire 168 3,300
4 Oct. 20, 1991 Oakland, CA, fire storm 1,500 2,600
5 Oct. 20, 2007 San Diego County, CA, The Southern California Firestorm 1,800 2,000
6 Nov. 9, 1872 Great Boston Fire 75 1,500
7 Oct. 23, 1989 Pasadena, Texas, polyolefin plant 750 1,400
8 May 4, 2000 Los Alamos, NM, Cerro Grande wildland fire 1,000 1,400
9 Oct. 25, 2003 Julian, CA, Cedar wildland fire  1,100 1,300
10 Feb. 7, 1904 Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Conflagration 50 1,300

(1) Loss estimates are from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) records. The list is limited to fires for which some reliable dollar loss estimates exists.
(2) Adjustment to 2013 dollars made by the NFPA using the Consumer Price Index, including the U.S. Census Bureau's estimates of the index for historical times.
(3) Differs from inflation-adjusted estimates made by other organizations due to the use of different deflators.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Large-Loss Fires in the United States, 2013 by Stephen G. Badger, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

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THE TEN MOST CATASTROPHIC MULTIPLE-DEATH FIRES, 2013 (1)

Rank Month State Type of facility Deaths
1 June Arizona Wildfire 19
2 April Texas Fertilizer plant 15
3 July Pennsylvania Three-story duplex home 7
4 May Pennsylvania Single-family home 6
5 September Ohio Single-family home 6
6 October West Virginia Single-family home 6
7 January Kentucky Single-family home 5
8 February Indiana Single-family home 5
9 March Illinois Single-family home 5
10 April Idaho Single-family home 5

(1) Fires that kill five or more people in residential property, or three or more people in nonhome or nonstructural property.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Catastrophic Multiple-death Fires in 2013 by Stephen G. Badger, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

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THE TEN MOST CATASTROPHIC MULTIPLE-DEATH FIRES IN U.S. HISTORY (1)

Rank Date Location/event Deaths
1 Sep. 11, 2001 New York, NY, World Trade Center terrorist attack 2,666 (2)
2 Apr. 27, 1865 Mississippi River, SS Sultana steamship 1,547
3 Oct. 8, 1871 Peshtigo, WI, forest fire 1,152
4 Jun. 15, 1904 New York, NY, General Slocum steamship 1,030
5 Dec. 30, 1903 Chicago, IL, Iroquois Theater 602
6 Oct. 12, 1918 Cloquet, MN, forest fire 559
7 Nov. 28, 1942 Boston, MA, Cocoanut Grove night club 492
8 Apr. 16, 1947 Texas City, TX, SS Grandcamp and Monsanto Chemical Co. plant 468
9 Sep. 1, 1894 Hinckley, MN, forest fire 418
10 Dec. 6, 1907 Monongha, WV, coal mine explosion 361

(1) Fires that kill five or more people in home property, or three or more people in nonhome or nonstructural property.
(2) Revised to 2,976 by government officials. 

Source: ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

 

LARGE LOSS FIRES

March 25, 2011, marked the 100-year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The blaze that swept through a New York City sweatshop killing 146 garment workers ushered in a new era of fire safety in the American workplace, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The September 11, 2001, World Trade Center conflagration was the deadliest, as well as the most costly, building fire in U.S. history.

 

THE TWENTY DEADLIEST LARGE-LOSS FIRES IN THE UNITED STATES (1)

Rank Date Event Location Fatalities
1 Sep. 11, 2001 The World Trade Center New York, NY 2,666
2 Dec. 30, 1903 Iroquois Theatre Chicago, IL 602
3 Nov. 28, 1942 Cocoanut Grove night club Boston, MA 492
4 Apr. 21, 1930 Ohio State Penitentiary Columbus, OH 320
5 Mar. 18, 1937 Consolidated School gas explosion New London, TX 294
6 Dec. 5, 1876 Conway's Theatre Brooklyn, NY 285
7 Apr. 23, 1940 Rhythm Club Natchez, MS 207
8 Mar. 4, 1908 Lakeview Grammar School Collinwood, OH 175
9 Jan. 12, 1908 Rhodes Opera House Boyertown, PA 170
10 Jul. 6, 1944 Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus Hartford, CT 168
10 Apr. 19, 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Oklahoma City, OK 168
12 May 28, 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club Southgate, KY 165
13 Mar. 25, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Company New York, NY 146
14 Apr. 10, 1917 Eddystone Ammunition Company plant explosion Eddystone, PA 133
15 May 15, 1929 Cleveland Clinic Hospital Cleveland, OH 125
16 Dec. 7, 1946 Winecoff Hotel Atlanta, GA 119
17 Feb. 20, 2003 The Station Nightclub W. Warwick, RI 100
18 Dec. 1, 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School Chicago, IL 95
19 Mar. 25, 1990 Happy Land Social Club New York, NY 87
20 Nov. 21, 1980 MGM Grand Hotel Las Vegas, NV 85

(1) Based on deadliest single-builiding or complex fires and explosions.

Source: National Fire Protection Association.

 

HOLIDAY FIRE LOSSES

Fireworks

On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires in 2011, according to a fireworks fact sheet from the NFPA. Key stats include:

  • Fireworks fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.
  • In 2011, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,600 people for fireworks related injuries; 61 percent of 2011 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 34 percent were to the head.
  • The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-19, and adults 25-44 in an atypical year of a very comparable risk across much of the population.

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 230 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees from 2007 to 2011, according to a fact sheet from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
  • Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of six civilian deaths, 22 civilian injuries and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually from 2007 to 2011.
  • Electrical failures or malfunctions were involved in about one-third (32 percent) of the home Christmas tree structure fires. One in six (17 percent) occurred because some type of heat source was too close to the tree. Decorative lights were involved in 12 percent of these incidents. Seven percent of home Christmas tree fires were started by candles.
  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve, according to another NFPA fact sheet.
  • During the five-year-period of 2007-2011, the NFPA estimates that decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 920 reported home structure fires per year. These fires caused an estimated average of six civilian deaths, 47 civilian injuries and $12.9 million in direct property damage per year, according to an NFPA fact sheet.

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