Did you know that most Americans aren’t familiar with even the most basic fire safety tips and are incapable of dealing with a potential fire in their home or workplace?
In order to remedy this, we’ve created an extensive list of statistics, facts, and tips that will help people prevent fires—one of the most common household mishaps in the US. By engaging in fire prevention, you’ll be able to properly deal with a fire before it gets out of control and avoid injuries, property damage, or loss of life.
With fire safety education being so neglected, not only in the US but across the world, even the most basic information can be helpful. Starting with prevention, we’ll move on to the devices that save lives once a fire breaks out, and finally, we’ll cover the fire statistics that will show you the importance of investing your time in learning more about this topic.
Key Fire Safety Facts
- In 2020, there were 3,500 civilian deaths due to a fire in the US
- On average, 300 children under 14 die in house fires each year
- 17% of fatal residential fires are caused by carelessness
- Children start around 20,000 fires each year by playing with fire
- 17% of home fire deaths occur due to a nonfunctional smoke alarm
- 25% of smoke alarm failures with a deadly outcome occur due to a dead battery
- US fire departments responded to 356,500 home fires in 2020
- Around 7,500 structure fires in restaurants are reported every year
The most important part of educating the public on fire and safety should always be fire prevention. That’s why, first and foremost, we’re starting with a list of some basic prevention measures. By familiarizing yourself with the following, you’ll know what every household and workplace should adopt in order to be protected.
Home Fire Prevention Tips
No Smoking Indoors
Smoking is a habit most people aren’t proud of. However, those who can’t seem to kick the habit should keep it outside of their home and workplace, or any other closed space, as it’s a major fire hazard. Numerous deaths and injuries are reported every year due to people lighting a cigarette near a gas source or falling asleep with one in their hands. So what is the top cause of a house fire? Smoking takes the second spot, being responsible for 14.2% of fatal residential building fires in 2016.
Keep an Eye on the Food That’s Cooking
According to 2019 statistics, cooking fires were responsible for 550 deaths that year. Those preparing food should never leave the stove unattended, especially when cooking in shallow pans with lots of oil. This is a commonly ignored rule of household fire prevention.
Position the Heat Source the Right Way
Making sure that your heat source is situated such that it won’t contact any potentially combustible materials is another major factor in fire prevention. Electric space heaters cause around a third of all winter house fires, and they are to blame in 80% of the house fires with a deadly outcome that occur during the winter, according to recent house fire statistics. Even more caution is needed when heating the space with gas-fired space heaters—they require additional safety measures, such as proper room ventilation.
Properly Maintain Appliances and Electrical Wiring
Having all your wiring checked by a professional is recommended for everyone moving to a new place, as faulty wiring easily starts a fire. It is estimated that around 9.6% of fatal building fires are a consequence of an electrical malfunction. Appliances, such as washers and dryers, also require proper professional maintenance, on a yearly basis at least.
Workplace Fire Prevention Tips
Supervise and Clean All Work Areas
Adequate supervision is necessary in some workplaces, such as restaurants, in order to properly prevent a fire. Any potential mistakes that can lead to a fire need to be corrected quickly. Additionally, the workspace needs to be properly cleaned in order to prevent any combustible materials from accumulating.
Avoid Blocking Access to Fire Equipment
One of the bases of proper fire safety in the workplace is allowing unobstructed access to firefighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers, at all times. Piling things in front of these necessary safety features is a big no-no, and doing so should be avoided and watched out for at all costs.
Maintain All Workplace Machinery Regularly
This is another one of the important basic fire safety rules. To protect your workplace, regular and proper maintenance of all the machinery that’s constantly in use is absolutely mandatory. Not doing so risks the machinery malfunctioning and employees getting injured in numerous ways, even apart from fire. Electrical maintenance and its importance can’t be stressed enough, for both home and work settings.
Provide Proper Fire Prevention Training
Employees at most workplaces are required to go through some sort of fire prevention course or at least a training session. In fact, making this practice an annual requirement has been proven to effectively cut the risk of fire, as well as the number of fire-related deaths and injuries in the workplace, significantly. However, some companies don’t take this requirement seriously and just cruise through it. Make sure yours isn’t one of them.
Devices and Systems That Deal with Fire
What is a fire safety system? Why should everyone have one?
In some cases, due to negligence or device malfunctions, no amount of preemptive measures can prevent a fire from breaking out. In these instances, two basic types of devices—which are also the two most common types of fire safety systems—are worth investing in. We’ve provided some statistics and basic information on them.
The most basic of all fire safety methods, a smoke alarm is a must-have for every residential and commercial space. Even though most of us consider them useless and find their only purpose to be their unpleasant wailing when something on the stove starts smoking too much, they’re an invaluable tool in preventing fire-related injuries and death. Here are some smoke alarm statistics and home safety tips related to them:
1. The risk of dying in a house fire is cut in half for those in homes with working smoke alarms.
Being warned of a fire early significantly increases your survival chances. This is why smoke alarms are considered a necessity, especially considering how working smoke alarms decrease the risk of dying in a home fire by 50%.
2. 40% of home fire deaths occur in a home with no smoke alarm.
Home fire statistics show that 40% of all deaths that occur in a home fire happen when no smoke detector is present. How little we value our safety is best shown by the pricing of some smoke alarms, which go for as little as $9 on Amazon.
3. 17% of home fire deaths occur due to a nonfunctional smoke alarm.
In 17% of deaths that occur in home fires, a smoke alert system was present, but it wasn’t operational. Checking if your smoke detector works is a small task that needs to be repeated weekly, fire prevention agencies warn. Even the simplest devices have a Test button on the back that can be set for a weekly check-up.
4. 25% of smoke alarm failures with a deadly outcome occur due to a dead battery.
Estimates show that a quarter of all smoke alarm failures that happened in home fires with a deadly outcome had batteries to blame. Missing, disconnected, or dead batteries are the reason those buttons on the back exist. No matter how sensitive to bad cooking your alarm may be, never disconnect its batteries. This is the most basic of all home fire safety tips.
5. Interconnected smoke alarms throughout the home further improve home safety.
Having more than one smoke alarm increases your safety, especially for large houses. Interconnected alarms that sound simultaneously when they detect a fire are a godsend when it comes to fires that break out during the night.
Sprinklers are regarded as a fire safety method reserved for commercial buildings, but they can be a life-saving investment for your home, too. Here are some fire prevention and protection facts and statistics that will debunk all the misconceptions related to home fire sprinklers:
6. Fire sprinklers reduce the risk of death in a home fire by 80%.
With fire sprinklers installed in your home, the chances of a deadly fire are reduced by 80%. This makes them the most effective fire safety measure available.
7. The risk of property loss is reduced by 70% in homes with sprinklers.
Homes that have a fire sprinkler system in place are 70% less likely to see any fire-caused property loss than their neighbors without one, house fire statistics for 2018 and 2019 show.
8. A fire sprinkler installation typically costs 1–2% of a home’s total construction cost.
Having a home fire sprinkler system is not a massive luxury. According to recent prices, it typically costs 1–2% of a home’s total construction cost to have this valuable safety system in your home.
9. Fire sprinklers activate on an individual basis.
One of the common misconceptions about sprinklers is that they ruin the entire house/building once they’re activated. Fire education teaches us the opposite of what the movies show; only the sprinkler closest to the fire is activated, while the rest of the home/building remains safe and dry.
10. Fire sprinklers release less water than fire hoses.
When a sprinkler is activated, approximately 341 gallons of water is released. A typical intervention by firefighters uses 2,935 gallons of water. This stands to show that sprinklers cause much less water damage to the property, making it another statistic favoring their use.
Now that we’ve gone through the fire prevention basics and recommended the more important devices to have in your home and workplace, we’ve finally arrived at the part that’s meant to scare you into caring about the safety of family and coworkers. Fires are much more common and devastating than people realize.
For those who think that a house fire is something that can’t and won’t happen to them, here are some statistics that show otherwise:
How Many Fires Are There in the US?
11. A fire department in the US responds to a fire every 24 seconds.
Even though the National Fire Protection Association points out that the number of fires is significantly lower now than it was 50 years ago, fires are still a common ordeal. According to them, firefighters in the US respond to a fire every 24 seconds.
12. US fire departments responded to 356,500 home fires in 2020
Wondering how many homes catch fire per year? The number for 2020 is 356,500. The total number of fires on structures the same year was 490,500.
13. On average, US fire departments respond to 37,910 industrial or manufacturing fires each year.
71% of these fires occurred outside, and another 20% took place inside the structures. Only 9% involved vehicles.The manufacturing sector is most prone to fires, and 65% of all combined industry and manufacturing fires happen there.
14. NFPA research shows that around 7,500 structure fires in restaurants are reported every year.
Eating and drinking establishments are not exempt from fires. Workplace fire statistics show that almost 7,500 fires were reported each year in bars and restaurants across the US. Between 2017 and 2021, there were around 200 fires annually just in NYC.
15. 3,230 fires in educational properties were reported each year, between 2014 and 2018.
Each year, there are around 3,300 fires requiring the fire department to respond, occurring on a property owned by an educational establishment. This shows that teaching kids about fire safety should be a major point of their early education.
Deaths and Injuries in Home Fires in the US
16. There were 3,500 civilian deaths due to a fire reported in the US during 2020.
In 2020, there were 3,500 fire-related deaths in the US. Compared to the same data from 2019, it is a 5.5% decrease in fires with a deadly outcome. Out of 3,500 deaths in 2020, 62 were on-duty firefighters.
17. There were 15,200 reported injuries caused by a fire in 2020.
Statistics provided by the U.S. Fire Administration show that 1,700 of them were in vehicles, while the rest were in residential and non-residential structures.
18. 17% of fatal residential fires are caused by carelessness.
In addition to the majority of fatal home fires being caused by carelessness, 14% were caused by smoking. Around 10% of fires with fatalities are caused by electrical malfunctions and 9.8% are started intentionally.
19. 7% of residential fires that result in injury are caused by cooking.
The number of house fires per year that resulted in injury in recent years has remained similar. Additionally, an electrical malfunction was to blame for 6.8% of home fire injuries, while smoking caused 6.7% of them.
20. Men are more likely to die or get injured in a house fire.
Statistics show that residential fires have a gender bias. According to home fire death statistics, 60.3% of residential fire casualties are male. Men are also more likely to get injured in a fire, with a participation rate of 59.4% in all house fires.
21. People over the age of 85 have the highest rate of fire-related death.
The US Fire Administration’s data tells us that the elderly have the highest fire death rates. 37.3 per million people of those 85 or older die from a home fire every year, according to fire deaths data from 2018.
22. People aged 30–34 have the highest fire injury rate.
When it comes to home fire injuries, those between the ages of 30 and 34 are statistically more likely to be hurt during a fire. Their fire injury rate is 59 per million people.
23. On average, 300 children under 14 die in house fires each year.
A report on child fire safety shows that, on average, 300 children aged 14 or younger die in house fires and around 1030 get injured each year.
24. 140 firefighters lost their lives while on duty in 2020.
In total, there were 140 on-duty firefighter deaths in 2020, and 78 of them were Covid-related. Out of 62 non-Covid deaths, 27 were volunteer firefighters, 23 were career firefighters, eight were contractors, two were federal employees and two were members of the military.
25. 60,825 firefighters were injured in a fire during 2019.
Even though this is an increase of four percent compared to the year before, it is still the third-lowest injury total since 1981. An estimated 23,825 injuries happened during fire fighting and around 14,150 injuries occurred during non-fire emergencies.
Child Fire Safety Statistics
26. Children start around 20,000 fires each year by playing with fire.
This number exceeds the total of yearly residential fires in the UK—which you can learn more about further down the list.
27. 43% of the children were under the age of 6.
With 43% of the kids starting a home fire being in this age group, teaching fire safety for children as early as possible needs to become a priority. For comparison, those aged between 13 and 17 were responsible for just 9% of the home fires started by kids.
28. Of the home fires started by children, 83% were started by boys.
Once again, the numbers show that fires have a gender bias. It seems boys tend to be drawn to fire, as shown by the piece of fire safety statistics claiming that 83% of all home fires started by children are started by males.
29. 80 deaths per year were caused by home fires that children started.
In case you thought that your child playing with matches can’t do any harm, think again. An average of 80 deaths in home fires started by children were reported between 2007 and 2011. The numbers for more recent years are estimated to be similar.
30. $235 million in property damage is caused every year by kids starting fires.
Essentially a lack of kids fire safety causes approximately $235 million in property damage every year. Fire isn’t something you play with, and this needs to be ingrained in their curious minds from an early age.
31. 52% of these fires were started with a lighter.
Figures show that the majority of little pyromaniacs use a lighter as their means of starting a fire. Be sure to explain the potential consequences of playing with a lighter to them, or drive down to your local fire department—they’ll be more than glad to help educate your kids on the dangers of playing with fire. Once again, preventing house fires starts with an early education on the topic.
32. 50% of these fires start in a bedroom.
Once they get a hold of a lighter, their new favorite toy, children run straight into the bedroom to play with it. Typically, bedding, which is commonly made of combustible materials, catches fire first. Educate and keep an eye on your kids if you’re still wondering how to prevent house fires.
33. 24% of child-initiated fires are started in July.
Showing that our children aren’t complete maniacs is the fact that most fires started by them occur during July, mostly as a consequence of misusing fireworks around the July 4th celebrations.
34. Only 26% of families have actually practiced a home fire escape plan with their child.
Regardless of whether they’re the culprit, children need to know how to get out of a burning house. When it comes to fires and children, it’s estimated that just over a quarter of all families in the US have a fire escape plan that they’ve practiced with their children.
35. Children are not being taught about wildfires.
According to Save the Children, wildfires represent a huge threat to the children and adults in the parts of the country that are prone to them. Those living in these areas need to brush up on their knowledge and teach their kids, at the very least, the survival basics.
Wildfires in the US
36. There were 71,499 wildfires in 2017.
During 2017, 71,499 wildfires were reported across the US. United States fire statistics related to California’s largest fires show that the second largest wildfire in the state’s history was started in 2017. The Thomas Fire started in December, and it took 281,893 acres of land, 1,063 structures, and two lives. According to the results of the investigation, the fire was started by improperly managed power lines.
37. There were 58,083 wildfires in 2018.
2018 saw far fewer wildfires than 2017. A total of 8.8 million acres of land were affected by the 58,083 wildfires started over the year. According to recent fire statistics, the largest fire in the history of California was started in July of 2018. The Mendocino Complex Fire burned through 459,123 acres of land and 280 structures. One life was lost in the fire. This fire is still under investigation.
38. 50,477 wildfires have been reported in 2019.
As of March 8, there have been 2,411 reported wildfires across the US. Once again, a significant year-over-year cut is noticeable, as the same period in 2018 had 7,828 wildfires. Fire safety measures that were introduced to national and state parks across the US appear to have had a significant positive effect, with just 49,976 acres burned, compared to 204,631 acres in the same period of last year.
39. The Peshtigo Fire caused the most deaths in all US history.
The Peshtigo Fire, which took place in 1871, took the largest number of lives in the history of the US. The fire started burning in Wisconsin. During the period, people had no clue about fire safety. By the time the last flames were extinguished, the fire had taken approximately 1.2 million acres of land. However, what makes this wildfire so devastating is the fact that it took somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 lives.
40. The Great Fire of 1910 shaped today’s wildfire prevention standards.
The Great Fire of 1910 burned through Idaho and Montana and took around 3 million acres of land. It’s also the main reason there’s a fire safety guide for wildfire prevention in place today. After it subsided, the US Forest Service was fully shaped and cemented as a key agency in forest fire prevention and de-escalation.
Even though they’ve made great efforts throughout the years to minimize wildfires by educating the population, this type of fire is still a threat.
41. California is the most wildfire-prone state.
When it comes to the number of households at high or extreme risk from wildfires, California takes the unfortunate first spot on the list, with over 2 million households belonging to this category. Fire department statistics by state add Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Idaho as the top five most at-risk states.
42. The Camp Fire caused the most deaths in California’s history.
The Camp Fire, whose first flames started in November of 2018, was the most devastating fire in the history of California. 153,336 acres of land, 18,804 structures, and, most devastatingly, 85 lives were lost, Camp Fire statistics show.
43. California had the most acres burned in 2018.
During 2018, California appears to have been the state that was most affected by wildfires. The total land surface that was affected amounted to 1,823,153 acres in a total of 8,054 fires.
Nevada was the second most affected state, with 1,001,966 acres of land burned in just 649 wildfires.
44. Delaware and DC had no wildfire-burned land in 2018.
This question of How many wildfires happen a year? has already been answered above, but for Delaware and the District of Columbia, the answer appears to be zero, and these two states share the title of the safest place in America from wildfires.
In 2018, only 14 acres of land were burned in one of the 32 wildfires started in Oregon, making it the third safest.
45. In 2017, wildfires caused a massive $20 billion in damages.
Compared to just $2 billion lost due to wildfires in 2016, 2017 was a decimating year. Wildfire losses were tenfold, fire prevention organizations point out. According to the statistics, wildfires in California were responsible for the majority of this total, with the damages in the state being estimated at around $18 billion.
How Many Home Fires Are There in the UK?
In order to accommodate a wider audience and spread fire prevention awareness to the Old Continent, here are some statistics on home fires from the UK:
46. 39,600 fires were reported last year in the UK.
The UK has maintained a streak of less than 40,000 home fires per year for half a decade. Even though the number seems impressive, their house fire prevention education can still use some improvement.
47. 88% of the reported fires were accidental.
Experts estimate that the majority of fires that occur are preventable. This statement applies to any country in the world. According to data, 88% of the fires that were started in the UK last year were accidental, which probably means they were preventable.
48. There was no smoke alarm in 31% of the home fires that resulted in a death.
The British seem to be more fond of smoke alarms than Americans. One of the most basic fire safety rules for the home was skipped over by only 31% of the residences that caught fire and, sadly, led to a fatality in the UK.
49. On average, the smoke alarm is not operational in 19% of the fires resulting in a death.
However, the British are not paying as much attention as Americans do to the status of their smoke alarms. With 19% of deadly home fires in the UK happening in a house with a smoke alarm that wasn’t functional, they could take better care of their alarms and improve their national fire prevention figures.
50. The use of smoke alarms in the UK rose to 88% back in 2011.
Surveys conducted in 1988 showed that just 8% of UK residents had a smoke alarm in their home. In 2011, that number had, fortunately, significantly improved. With 88% of the population reporting that an operational smoke alarm was present in their home, several of the top causes of residential fires, such as cooking incidents, have been avoided.
Workplace Fires in the UK
51. 22,200 workplace fires were reported in 2015.
The UK had a fairly large rate of workplace fires during 2014/2015. During this period, 22,200 fires in the workplace were reported. What’s the picture like nowadays?
52. In 2017, the number of reported workplace fires went down to 15,815.
The most recent data available, from 2016/2017, shows that the number of yearly workplace fires in the UK has dropped significantly. World fire statistics for 2018 show the same number: 15,815 total workplace fires for the United Kingdom.
53. Most workplace fires in the UK occurred in retail distribution workplaces.
With 3,000 workplace fires last year happening in retail distribution, this seems to be the least safe industry in the UK, at least when it comes to fire. 2,500 fires occurred in industrial premises, while 2,200 were started in restaurants, pubs, and bars. How do you keep safe from a fire? Possibly by avoiding employment in one of these industries.
54. An alarm failed to sound in 3,700 workplace fires.
An alarm malfunction was reported in almost a fifth of all workplace fires in the UK. We are, once again, reminded how important proper maintenance of fire safety devices and systems is.
55. 17 deaths caused by a fire in the workplace were reported.
17 fatalities in workplaces that were affected by a fire were reported last year in the UK. One out of three workplace fire deaths had smoking-based causes, such as lighters and cigarettes. With this kind of data in mind, the question, Why is fire safety important? is a bit redundant.
Out of all five basic elements that Ancient China considered the bases of the universe, fire might be the most frightening and dangerous to humans. We hope that this list and its statistics helped you gain a little more insight on the danger it can represent to us, our loved ones, and our environment. Maybe you’ve even realized that a smoke alarm is a wise investment.
And if this list of fire safety tips hasn’t made an impact, there’s only one more that we can offer: stop, drop, and roll.
- Checkmate Fire
- Insurance Information Institute
- Federation of American Scientists
- Save the Children
- American Red Cross
- US Fire Administration
- Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition
- National Fire Protection Association
- Cal Fire
- Nationwide Childrens