Facts + Statistics: Fire

 
Fire losses

Great strides have been made in constructing fire-resistant buildings and improving fire-suppression techniques, both of which have reduced the incidence of fire. However, in terms of property losses, these advances have been somewhat offset by increases in the number and value of buildings.

In 2017, on average, a fire department responded to a fire every 24 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A structure fire occurred every 63 seconds, a home fire occurred every 88 seconds, and an outside property fire occurred every 51 seconds. Fires occurred in highway-type vehicles every 3 minutes and 8 seconds.

 
Fire Losses in The United States, 2009-2018 (1)

 

Year Property loss ($ millions) Loss per capita (2)
2009 $22,911 $74.68
2010 20,486 66.23
2011 19,511 62.62
2012 23,977 76.39
2013 19,054 60.29
2014 21,801 68.47
2015 19,759 61.60
2016 23,789 73.63
2017 36,510 112.29
2018 43,583 133.21

(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® business; U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.

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Fire Losses In The United States, By Line Of Insurance, 2018 (1)

 

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

Source: ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® business.

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Structure fires

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that there were 499,000 structure fires in the United States in 2018, unchanged from 2017. Of note, structure fires in 2016 was the lowest number of fires since the NFPA began collecting data in 1977. Structure fires peaked at 1,098,000 in 1977 and have been trending downward over the past 40 years.

Fires in structures not related to wildfires caused $11.1 billion in property damage in 2018, up 3.7 percent from the 2017 loss of $10.7 billion. The average loss for these structure fires was $22,244, up 3.7 percent from a year ago. Wildfires resulted in $10 billion in direct property loss in 2017.

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, 2009-2018 (1)

 

    Direct property damage (2)
($ billions)
    Direct property damage
($ billions)
Year Number
of fires
As reported In 2019
dollars (3)
Year Number
of fires
As reported In 2019
dollars  (3)
2009 480,500 $10.8 $12.9 2014 494,000 $9.8 $10.6
2010 482,000 9.7 11.4 2015 501,500 10.3 11.1
2011 484,500 9.7 11.0 2016 475,500 7.8 8.3
2012 480,500 9.8 11.0 2017 499,000 10.7 11.2
2013 487,500 9.5 10.4 2018 499,000 11.1 11.3

(1) Estimates based on data reported by fire departments responding to the 2018 National Fire Experience Survey. May exclude reports from all fire departments.
(2) Does not include damage from major wildfires.
(3) Calculated from unrounded numbers by the Insurance Information Institute using the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2018 by Ben Evarts, ©National Fire Protection Association http://www.nfpa.org.

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Structure Fires By Type Of Use, 2018 (1)

 

Property use Estimated number
of fires
Percent change
from 2017
Property loss (2)
($ millions)
Percent change
from 2017
Public assembly 15,500 7% $384 35%
Educational 4,500 18 109 113
Institutional 6,500 -7 44 10
Residential 387,000 2 8,286 5
     1 and 2 family homes (3) 276,500 5 6,493 6
     Apartments 86,500 -9 1,529 -4
     Other (4) 24,000 9 264 63
Stores and offices 18,000 (5) 778 2
Industry, utility, defense (6) 11,000 29 508 1
Storage in structures 27,000 -2 833 (5)
Special structures 29,500 -24 124 -62
Total 499,000 (5) $11,066 3%

(1) Estimates based on data reported by fire departments responding to the 2018 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) Includes manufactured homes.
(4) Includes hotels and motels, college dormitories, boarding houses, etc.
(5) Less than 0.1 percent.
(6) Excludes incidents handled only by private brigades or fixed suppression systems.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2018 by Ben Evarts, ©National Fire Protection Association https://www.nfpa.org.

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Civilian (Nonfirefighter) Fire Deaths And Injuries By Property Use, 2018

 

Property use Civilian fire
deaths
Percent change
from 2017
Percent of all
civilian fire deaths
Civilian fire
injuries
Residential 2,820 4% 77% 11,600
     1 and 2 family homes (1) 2,360 3 67 7,800
     Apartments 360 6 10 3,400
     Other residential (2) 100 25 3 400
Nonresidential structures (3) 90 -14 2 1,100
Highway vehicles 490 23 13 1,300
Other vehicles (4) 70 133 2 200
All other fires (5) 100 -31 3 1,000
Camp Fire (wildland fire) 85 NA 2 NA
Total 3,655 8% 100% 15,200

(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) Includes trains, boats, ships, farm vehicles and construction vehicles.
(5) Includes outside properties with value, as well as brush, rubbish and other outside locations.

NA=Data not available.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2018 by Ben Evarts, ©National Fire Protection Association https://www.nfpa.org.

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Top 10 Costliest Large-Loss Fires, 2018

($ millions)

Rank Month State Type of facility Estimated loss
1 November California Wildland-urban interface fire, Camp Fire $8,473.4
2 November California Wildland-urban interface fire, Woolsey Fire 2,932.1
3 July California Wildland-urban interface fire, Carr Fire 892.6
4 May Kansas University library 70.0
5 April California Apartment complex under construction 60.5
6 September D.C. Occupied apartment building 47.0
7 July California Wildland-urban interface fire, Ranch Fire 30.3
8 July Wisconsin Printing facility 21.0
9 February California Single-family home 20.5
10 May Missouri Hog farm 20.0
10 August California Wood product manufacturing plant 20.0

Note: Loss data shown here may differ from figures shown elsewhere for the same event due to differences in the date of publication, the geographical area covered and other criteria used by organizations collecting the data.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Large-Loss Fires in the United States, 2018 by Stephen G. Badger and Matthew Foley, ©National Fire Protection Association https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools.

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Top 10 Most Costly Large-Loss Fires In U.S. History

($ millions)

      Estimated loss (1)
Rank Date Location/event Dollars when occurred In 2018 dollars (2)
1 Sep. 11, 2001 World Trade Center (terrorist attacks) $33,400 $47,400 (3)
2 Oct. 8, 2017 Northern CA wildland urban interface fire 10,000 10,200
3 Apr. 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 350 9,700
4 Nov. 8, 2018 Camp wildland urban interface fire 8,500 8,500
5 Oct. 8-9, 1871 Great Chicago Fire 168 3,500
6 Nov. 8, 2018 Woolsey wildland urban interface fire 2,900 2,900
7 Oct. 20, 1991 Oakland, CA, firestorm 1,500 2,800
8 Oct. 20, 2007 San Diego County, CA, The Southern California Firestorm 1,800 2,200
9 Dec. 14, 2017 Southern CA wildland urban interface fire 1,800 1,800
10 Sep. 12, 2015 Valley Fire, CA, wildland urban interface fire 1,500 1,600

(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 2018 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: ©National Fire Protection Association https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools.

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Top Catastrophic Multiple-Death Fires, 2018 (1)

 

Rank (2) Month State Type of facility Deaths
1 November California Wildland/urban interface fire 85
2 August Illinois Two-family home 10
3 July California Wildland/urban interface fire 8
4 April Tennessee Single-family home 6
4 July Michigan Motel 6
4 November Indiana Single-family home 6
5 January Oklahoma Gas well 5
5 January Kansas Single-family home 5
5 February Arizona Helicopter crash/fire 5
5 March Tennessee Single-family home 5
5 April New York Single-family home 5
5 May North Carolina Apartment building 5
5 June Missouri Single-family, manufactured home 5
5 June Washington Vacation cabin 5
5 July New Jersey Apartment building 5
5 July Texas Apartment building 5
5 December Ohio 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.
(2) Fires with the same number of deaths receive the same rank.

Source: Based on data from Catastrophic Multiple-Death Fires in 2018 by Stephen G. Badger, ©National Fire Protection Association. Used with permission https://www.nfpa.org/.

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Top 10 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: Reproduced with permission, © 2017, National Fire Protection Association https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/US-Fire-Problem.

 
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.

 
TOP 20 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

Almost half of all reported fires on July 4th were started by fireworks between 2009 and 2013 (latest data available), according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

  • In 2017 U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 31 percent of those injuries involved injuries to hands and fingers, 22 percent involved the head, face and ears, 17 percent involved legs, 14 percent involved eyes, and 6 percent involved arms according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • The risk of fireworks injury, based on the estimated rate of emergency department-treated fireworks-related injuries, is highest for children 10 to 14 years of age (5.9 injuries per 100,000 people) followed by young adults 20 to 24 years of age (5.8 injuries per 100,000 people).

Home fires

  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires, followed by the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. In 2016, there were 1,570 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the highest for any day of the year.

 

 


Media Folder: 

Holiday fire losses

 

 

 

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 200 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees from 2011 to 2015, according to a fact sheet from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
  • On average, one out of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 reported home fires.
  • Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of six civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually from 2011 to 2015.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in two out of five (40 percent) of the home Christmas tree structure fires. About one-quarter (26 percent) occurred because some type of heat source was too close to the tree. Decorative lights were involved in 18 percent of these incidents. Eight 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 New Year’s Eve, according to another NFPA fact sheet.
  • During 2011-2015, the NFPA estimates that 12 percent of December candle fires began with decorations. These fires caused an estimated average of one civilian death, 41 civilian injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage per year, according to an NFPA fact sheet.
  • Candle fires peaked in December (11%). January and November ranked second, each with 10% of home candle fires.
  • During the five-year-period of 2011-2015, 8,690 home structure fires were caused by candles each year. They caused an annual average of 82 civilian fire deaths, 800 civilian fire injuries and $295 million in direct property damage.

For information about Holiday Safety and Preparedness, see our Pinterest board.

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