Fire Prevention & Protection, Structural Firefighting

Nearly 4,000 Die In U.S. Fires In 2004

Quincy, MA – A study released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that there were 3,900 fire fatalities last year in the United States, and just as in previous years, most (82 percent) of these fatalities occurred in homes. The total fire death toll decreased slightly by 0.6 percent in 2003, and there was a 1.4 percent increase in fire deaths in homes.

The yearly report noted that nationwide, there was a fire death every 135 minutes in 2004.

In all, 17,785 people were injured in fires in 2004, a slight decrease of 1.4 percent. As with fire deaths, most (77 percent) reported fire injuries occurred in homes, or about 13,700 injuries.

There was a fire injury every 30 minutes in 2004.

Property damage from fires decreased by 20.2% to $9,794,000,000. Nearly all of this decrease reflects the absence in 2004 of any fires as large as the two southern California wildfires of 2003, which together produced losses of $2 billion. Of the 2004 total, $8,222,000,000 occurred in structure fires and $5,833,000,000 in homes.

In 2004, public fire departments responded to 1,550,500 fires in the U.S., a slight decrease of 2.2 percent from the previous year. But there was a slight increase of 1.3 percent in structure fires to 526,000. There were also 266,500 highway vehicle fires, down 6.8 percent from last year

The report also recommended what should be done to reduce the continuing annual toll of home fires and the injuries and deaths that occur as a result of them. These are:

  • More widespread public fire safety education to avoid serious injury or death if fire occurs;
  • More use and maintenance of smoke alarms;
  • More development and practice of escape plans;
  • Wider use of residential sprinklers; more fire safety designed into more home products; and
  • More attention to the special fire safety needs of high-risk groups, including the very young, older adults, and the poor.

The fire loss report has been issued every year by NFPA since 1977. In that time, reported fires have declined by roughly half and associated fire deaths by nearly half, even though 2004 saw no significant improvement.

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