NFPA Report Finds Rise in U.S. Fire Deaths in 2000

Quincy, MA-Total fire deaths rose to 4,045 in 2000, an increase of 13.3 percent from the previous year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, “Fire Loss in the United States during 2000.” In all, 3,420 fire deaths occurred in the home, an increase of 18.1 percent, the report noted. The home, the place where most feel the safest, accounted for 85 percent of all fire fatalities.

A fire death occurred every 130 minutes nationwide, according to the report, whereas in 1977 a fire death took place every 71 minutes. Overall, the NFPA pointed out, fire deaths have been on the decline for 25 years, a result of technological advances such as fire detection and alarm equipment, sprinkler systems, and safer products, as well as increased public awareness and knowledge of fire-safe behavior.

Other findings included in the report include the following:

� Fire injuries rose to 22,350, an increase of 2.2 percent from the previous year, but still the second lowest reported fire injury toll of the past quarter century.

� Nearly 78 percent of all fire injuries occur in residences; nationwide, a fire injury occurred every 23 minutes.

� In 2000, public fire departments responded to 1.708 million fires. a decrease of 6.3 percent from 1999, and the lowest level recorded.

� A fire department responded to a fire somewhere in the United States every 18 seconds in 2000.

� Structure fires were down 3.3 percent (505,500); a structure fire occurred every 62 seconds.

� There were 379,500 residential fires (no change from 1999), and these fires occurred every 83 seconds.

� There were 348,500 vehicle fires (down 5.4 percent); one occurred every 90 seconds.

� The number of fires in an outside property totaled 854,000 (down 8.3 percent); one occurred every 37 seconds.

� An estimated $11.207 billion in property damage occurred as a result of fire last year, an increase of 11.8 percent. The increase occurred as the result of the Cerro Grande (Los Alamos), NM, wildland fire, which caused an estimated property loss of $1 billion. Without this catastrophic fire, there would have been little change in property damage from the year before.

� Some $9.501 billion, or 83 percent, of all property damage occurred in structure fires. Half of the total property loss occurred in residential properties.

Complete findings from the report will be published in the September/October 2001 issue of NFPA Journal and on NFPA’s Web site, www.nfpa.org, later this year.

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