The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report today examining the characteristics of intentionally set fires in residential buildings. The report, Intentionally Set Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010), was developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center. The report is part of the Topical Fire Report Series and is based on 2008 to 2010 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).
According to the report:
- An estimated 16,800 intentionally set fires in residential buildings occur annually in the U.S. These fires result in an estimated average of 280 deaths, 775 injuries and $593 million in property loss each year.
- Intentionally set fires accounted for 5 percent of all residential building fires.
- Lighters (22 percent), heat from other open flame or smoking materials (19 percent) and matches (15 percent) were the leading heat sources of intentionally set fires in residential buildings.
- The majority (76 percent) of intentionally set fires in residential buildings occurred in one- or two-family dwellings. An additional 19 percent of fires occurred in multifamily dwellings.
- 41 percent of the intentionally set residential fires occurred in vacant buildings.
USFA would like to remind everyone that intentional home fires can be prevented. Start by regularly inspecting your home for fire hazards and removing materials that can be used to start a fire. Additional steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of an intentional home fire are:
- Remove trash, debris and other materials that can catch fire from the front and back of your home.
- Remove from your home or securely store flammable material and chemicals.
- Secure abandoned and vacant homes with additional locks. Board up broken windows or other openings with plywood.
- Support Neighborhood Watch programs and report suspicious people and activity to law enforcement officials.
The topical reports are designed to explore the U.S. fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. These topical reports briefly address the nature of the specific fire-related topic, highlight important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information.
Download this report as a PDF HERE (746 Kb).