Statistics on Main Causes of Fires
Unfortunately we all know for a fact that fires happen. As much precaution as we take to prevent them, they happen! So then what are the main causes of fires starting? The U.S. Fire Administration estimated that the leading reported causes of fires in non-residential buildings for 2013 was due to cooking materials (29.3%), intentional (9.7%), and carelessness (9.2%). However, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) broke down the statistics on the main causes of fire in healthcare, educational, and commercial properties.
In the healthcare arena, the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 6,240 structure fires during 2006-2010.
- 61% of fires were due to cooking equipment
- 7% of fires were due to clothing equipment
- 6% of fires were started intentionally
While cooking equipment seemed to have been the leading cause of fires, nursing homes were more likely to have fires involving clothes washer & dryer. And facilities providing care of those with developmental disabilities, mental illness or substance abuse had more fires that were intentionally set.
In the educational arena, during 2007-2011 an estimated average of 4,060 structure fires per year were reported in educational facilities. And an estimated 700 structure fires per year were reported in college classrooms and adult education centers.
- 13% of fires began in a kitchen or cooking area
- 49% of fires were started intentionally
- 32% occurred in the lavatory or bathroom
Most fires in educational properties occurred in nursery, elementary, middle, or high schools.
In the commercial arena, an estimated average of 3,700 fires in hotels were reported to the U.S. fire departments during 2006-2010. And the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,340 fires in offices during 2007-2011.
- 45% of fires were due to cooking equipment
- 10% of fires were due to smoking material
- 9% of fires were due to heating equipment
Nearly three-quarters of fires in hotels didn’t spread beyond their origin. However, fires that began in a bedroom were responsible for 31% of civilian injuries and 72% of civilian deaths. Smoking materials were the cause of the fire in 79% of civilian deaths.
In Office Buildings:
- 29% of fires were due to cooking equipment
- 12% of fires were due to electrical and wiring equipment
- 11% of fires were due to heating equipment
Although cooking equipment was the leading cause of office fires, it only accounted for just 6% of the direct property damage. Electrical and lighting equipment caused 15% of direct property damage, while fires that were intentionally set caused 20% of direct property damage.
All in all cooking and electrical equipment, carelessness as well as fires set intentionally, are the main causes of fire. So what can you do to prevent fires from happening? Be cautious when using electricity or any kind of heating equipment and make sure your passive fire protection system (fire/smoke dampers, fire doors, and firestop) are inspected and tested to help ensure that your building as well as its occupants are safe in case of a fire.