Leadership

USFA Releases Two Topical Reports on Residential Building Fires Involving Individuals with Disabilities

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) announces the release of two special reports highlighting the characteristics of residential building fires involving individuals with mental and physical disabilities. The reports, Residential Building Fires Involving Individuals with Mental Disabilities (PDF, (745 Kb) and Residential Building Fires Involving Individuals with Physical Disabilities (PDF, 899 Kb), were developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center. The analyses in these reports address residential building fires where a possible mental or physical disability, as reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), were the human factors contributing to the ignition of the fire.

Annually, an estimated 1,700 residential building fires involving individuals with mental disabilities are reported to U.S. fire departments and cause an estimated 85 deaths, 250 injuries, and $61 million in total loss.  Additionally, there are an estimated 700 residential building fires involving individuals with physical disabilities that occur each year, resulting in 160 deaths, 200 injuries, and $26 million in property loss.

According to the reports, the majority of the residential building fires involving individuals with mental (62 percent) and physical (63 percent) disabilities occur in one- and two-family dwellings.  Cooking, at 22 percent, is the leading cause of residential fires where a physical disability is reported as a human factor contributing to the ignition of the fire.  This differs from the leading cause of residential fires where a mental disability is reported as a human factor contributing to ignition.  In these types of fires, intentional is the leading fire cause, at 40 percent.  Fire incidence involving individuals with disabilities occur most often in January and December.  In addition, these fires show a tendency to peak in the late afternoon to early evening hours.

The reports are part of the Topical Fire Report Series and are based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) for 2007 to 2009.  Topical reports 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.

The reports can be downloaded at:  www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/.

For information regarding other topical reports or any programs and training available at the United States Fire Administration, visit www.usfa.fema.gov.