The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued a special report examining the causes and characteristics of residential multiple-fatality fires.
The report, Multiple-Fatality Fires in Residential Buildings, was developed by the National Fire Data Center, part of FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The report is based on 2004-2006 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). An estimated average of 250 fires resulting in two or more civilian fire deaths occurs each year in residential buildings. These fires are also responsible for 825 civilian deaths, 200 injuries, and $33 million in property loss.
According to the report, 81 percent of multiple-fatality fires in residential buildings occur in one- and two-family dwellings with an additional 16 percent occurring in multifamily dwellings such as apartments, condominiums, town houses, and row houses. Thirty percent of multiple-fatality fires in residential buildings are caused by electrical malfunctions (15 percent) and unintentional or careless actions (15 percent). Fires caused intentionally (12 percent) or by smoking (11 percent) also rank among the leading causes of multiple-fatality fires.
The short topical reports are designed to explore facets of the U.S. fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. Each topical report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information. Also included are recent examples of fire incidents that demonstrate some of the issues addressed in the report or that put the report topic in context.
A copy of the report can be downloaded here