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 of and value of buildings. In 2015, on average, a fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A structure fire occurred every 63 seconds, a residential structure fire occurred every 86 seconds and an outside property fire occurred every 52 seconds.

 
Fire Losses In The United States, 2007-2016 (1)

Year Property loss ($ millions) Loss per capita (2)
2007 $24,399 $81.00
2008 24,734 81.34
2009 22,911 74.68
2010 20,486 66.22
2011 19,511 62.60
2012 23,977 76.36
2013 19,054 60.26
2014 21,801 68.44
2015 19,759 61.57
2016 19,293 59.71

(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, 2016 (1)

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

Source: ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® business.

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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 2015, 77 percent of structure fires were in residential properties and 23 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. Structure fires caused $10.3 billion in damage in 2015. The majority of the damage ($7.2 billion) was to residential properties. 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, 2007-2016 (1)

Year Number of fires Year Number of fires
2007 530,500 2012 480,500
2008 515,000 2013 487,500
2009 480,500 2014 494,000
2010 482,000 2015 501,500
2011 484,500 2016 475,500

(1) Estimates based on data reported by fire departments responding to the 2016 National Fire Experience Survey. May exclude reports from all fire departments.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2016 by Hylton J.G. Haynes, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org.

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Structure Fires By Type Of Use, 2016 (1)

 

Property use Estimated number
of fires
Percent change
from 2015
Property loss (2)
($ millions)
Percent change
from 2015
Public assembly 14,000 -17.7% $308 -4.6%
Educational 4,000 -20.0 34 -15.0
Institutional 5,500 -15.4 37 -27.5
Residential 371,500 -4.3 5,804 -19.5
     1 and 2 family homes (3) 257,000 -5.0 4,493 -14.8
     Apartments 95,000 (6) 711 -38.8
     Other (4) 19,500 -13.3 150 -40.0
Stores and offices 16,000 -3.0 436 -31.3
Industry, utility, defense (5) 8,500 -5.6 419 -54.7
Storage in structures 27,000 -11.5 665 -35.6
Special structures 29,000 (6) 195 200.0
Total 475,500 -5.2% $7,898 -23.2%

(1) Estimates based on data reported by fire departments responding to the 2016 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) Excludes incidents handled only by private brigades or fixed suppression systems.
(6) Less than 0.1 percent.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2016 by Hylton J.G. Haynes, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org.

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Civilian (Nonfirefighter) Fire Deaths And Injuries By Property Use, 2016

 

Property use Civilian fire
deaths
Percent change
from 2015
Percent of all
civilian fire deaths
Civilian fire
injuries
Residential 2,800 7.5% 82.6% 11,125
     1 and 2 family homes (1) 2,410 11.8 71.1 7,375
     Apartments 325 -19.8 9.6 3,375
     Other residential (2) 65 44.4 1.9 375
Nonresidential structures (3) 150 87.5 4.4 1,650
Highway vehicles 280 -37.1 8.3 1,075
Other vehicles (4) 75 36.4 2.2 150
All other fires (5) 85 -10.5 2.5 650
Total 3,390 3.4 100.0% 14,650

(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.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2016 by Hylton J.G. Haynes, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org.

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Top 10 Costliest Large-Loss Fires, 2016

($ millions)

Rank Month State Type of facility Estimated loss
1 November Tennessee Wildland urban interface fire $911.0 (1)
2 August California Wildland urban interface fire (Clayton Fire) 174.6
3 March California Textiles warehouse 40.0
4 September Minnesota Warehouse 25.0
5 July Washington Unoccupied six-story mixed-occupancy building 20.0
6 July California  Unoccupied six-story apartment building 20.0
7 July California One-story multi-tenant strip mall 18.9
8 June Mississippi One-story manufacturing plant 17.6
9 October Oregon Office building 17.2
10 April Arizona Unoccupied three-story apartment building 17.0

(1) The NFPA notes that latest information for this event is not available.

Source: Reproduced with permission from Large-Loss Fires in the United States, 2016 by Stephen G. Badger, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org.

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Top 10 Costliest Large-Loss Fires In U.S. History

($ millions)

      Estimated loss (1)
Rank Date Location/event Dollars when occurred In 2016 dollars (2)
1 Sep. 11, 2001 World Trade Center (terrorist attacks) $33,400 (3) $45,290
2 Apr. 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 350 9,330
3 Oct. 8-9, 1871 Great Chicago Fire 168 3,410
4 Oct. 20, 1991 Oakland, CA, firestorm 1,500 2,680
5 Oct. 20, 2007 San Diego County, CA, The Southern California Firestorm 1,800 2,060
6 Nov. 9, 1872 Great Boston Fire 75 1,550
7 Sep. 12, 2015 Valley Fire, CA, wildland urban interface fire 1,500 1,520
8 May 4, 2000 Los Alamos, NM, Cerro Grande wildland fire 1,000 1,450
9 Oct. 23, 1989 Pasadena, Texas, polyolefin plant 750 1,440
10 Oct. 25, 2003 Julian, CA, Cedar wildland fire  1,100 1,340

(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; adjusted to 2016 dollars by the Insurance Information Institute using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator.
(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, 2016 by Stephen G. Badger, ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org.

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Top 10 Catastrophic Multiple-Death Fires, 2016 (1)

Rank (2) Month State Type of facility Deaths
1 December  California Ghost Ship warehouse 36
2 July Texas Hot-air balloon crash/fire 16
3 November Tennessee Wildfire 14
4 August Tennessee Single-family home 10
5 August Maryland 13-unit apartment building, explosion/fire 7
6 March Georgia Single-family home 6
6 May New York Single-family home 6
6 October Nebraska Single-family home 6
6 October Georgia Single-family home 6
10 January Alabama Single-family home 5
10 January Illinois Single-family home 5
10 January Virginia Single-family home 5
10 January Michigan Single-family home 5
10 April Pennsylvania Two-family duplex home 5
10 June California Vacant office buildings 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 2016 by Stephen G. Badger, ©National Fire Protection Association. Used with permission. 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: ©National Fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org.

 

 
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, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In 2013 fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires. Other NFPA key statistics include:

  • In 2013 fireworks fires resulted in an estimated 30 civilian injuries and $21 million in direct property damage.
  • In 2014 U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks related injuries; 51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities, and 38 percent were to the head, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • The risk of fireworks injury is highest for children ages 5 to 9 followed by children ages 15 to 19.

Home fires

  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times as many occurring on Thanksgiving as any other day of the year. In 2013, there were 1,550 fires on Thanksgiving, a 230 percent increase over the daily average.

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 210 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees from 2009 to 2013, according to a fact sheet from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
  • Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of seven civilian deaths, 19 civilian injuries and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually from 2009 to 2013.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38 percent of the home Christmas tree structure fires. About one-quarter (24 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 Christmas Eve, according to another NFPA fact sheet.
  • During the five-year-period of 2009-2013, the NFPA estimates that decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 860 reported home structure fires per year. 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.

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