Unfortunately, each year numerous fires break out, destroying homes, businesses, forests, and more. Thankfully, firefighters work tirelessly to prevent and control fires. Using fire department software and other solutions, fire departments also gather data on fires, which in turn can help inform efforts to prevent future incidents. We’ll take a look at some of the important statistics regarding fires but first, it helps to understand how the data is collected.
How the Government Gathers Statistics
Much of the data is collected by individual fire departments that use NFIRS reporting software. The NFIRS is a voluntary reporting standard that many local and state governments use to track fires. In practice, most fire departments use the NFIRS system. This allows the federal government to gather and analyze data.
The NFIRS was established by the United States Fire Administration, a federal authority, and was first set up in 1973. Since then, the reporting system has progressed as various technologies have evolved. It’s now possible to use tablets and other devices to report data.
Residential Fires Are Tragically Common
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) compiles many important stats regarding fires. One thing that becomes quickly obvious is that fires are tragically all too common. In 2021, approximately 353,500 residential fires broke out. Roughly 170,000 of the residential fires that broke out were the result of cooking incidents. It’s crucial to exercise safety while cooking, and you should keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. This way, you may be able to react more quickly and get the flames under control.
Over 32,000 fires were the result of heating systems. It’s smart to have your HVAC system regularly inspected to ensure that any risks are minimized. North of 24,000 fires were caused by electrical malfunctions. It’s also smart to have your electrical systems looked over on a periodic basis. Sadly, electrical fires rose by about 11 percent over the ten-year period from 2012 to 2021.
Overall, there was a 5 percent decrease in residential fires for the 2012-2021 period. However, deaths rose by 11 percent even as injuries declined by 7 percent. Lives are, of course, the most important metric but in 2021 alone residential fires caused roughly $8,855,900,000 in losses.
Nonresidential Building Fires Are Also a Major Problem
Unfortunately, it’s not just homes that are vulnerable to fires. Nonresidential buildings, such as warehouses and offices, can also go up in flames. In 2021, roughly 116,500 nonresidential fires broke out, resulting in 115 deaths and over a thousand injuries. Total losses reached $3,697,200,000.
Once again, incidents related to cooking were the most common. In 2021, cooking-related fires reached roughly 31,100. During the ten-year period from 2012 to 2021, cooking fires saw a 14 percent increase. Fires resulting from electrical malfunction amounted to 7,200 in 2021, resulting in $501,800,000 in damage.
Wildfires Are Also a Serious Threat
The United States Congressional Research Service has compiled a report that covers the frequency and nature of wildfires. A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire that spreads largely through natural environments. That said, wildfires can also be move into residential and commercial areas, where they can destroy buildings and kill or harm people. They can either occur naturally or be manmade.
There have been 70,025 wildfires on average every year since 2000. Thankfully, wildfires have become a bit less common when compared to the past. During the 1990s, over 78,000 wildfires occurred per year. Since 2000, wildfires have burned an average of about 7 million acres per year. To put that into perspective, New York City takes up less than 200,000 acres. Sadly, the acreage burned has steadily increased. Throughout the 1990s, only about 3.3 million acres burned per year.
Unfortunately, many experts believe that wildfires may become more common. Some experts cite global warming and increasingly severe droughts as a major contributing factor that will spur wildfires.
In Summary: Vigilance is a Must
It is crucial for property owners to remain vigilant and to take precautionary steps to prevent fires. As the data shows, fires are grave threats that can kill, maim, and destroy. By preventing fires, you can save lives, protect your business, and safeguard your home.