The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) announced the completion of a report and accompanying educational tools on behavioral mitigation of cooking fires. The report, Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires Through Strategies Based on Statistical Analysis, and accompanying educational videos and presentation are the result of a USFA partnership with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to develop sound, research-based recommendations for behavioral mitigation strategies to reduce cooking fires in the United States and the resulting injuries and deaths.
“Protecting people from fires and preventing fires are central to NFPA’s mission,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA President and CEO. “We were especially pleased to partner with USFA on this project because cooking fires wreak havoc on thousands of lives each year – they are the leading cause of fires in the home. What has been learned through this project will further strengthen NFPA’s efforts to minimize cooking fires.”
Unattended cooking is the single leading factor contributing to cooking fires. According to the USFA’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data, from 1999 to 2003, cooking equipment had been left unattended in 37 percent of the reported home cooking equipment fires overall and was a factor in 45 percent of the deep fryer fires and 43 percent of the range fires. In addition, unattended equipment was a factor in 42 percent of the cooking fire deaths and 44 percent of the injuries. Some type of combustible material too close to the cooking equipment was a factor in 13 percent of home cooking fires, 24 percent of the associated deaths, and 12 percent of the associated injuries, making heat source too close to combustibles the second leading factor contributing to ignition for home cooking fires, after unattended equipment. Finally, 55 percent of the people who were injured in U.S. home cooking fires were injured when they tried to fight the fire themselves.
“We are keenly aware cooking continues to be the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. These materials are expected to help people to understand the importance we place on this fire safety activity,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Greg Cade. “Through this partnership with NFPA, we plan to reduce the fires from this cause, prevent injuries and save lives.”
The project recommends educational messages for safe home cooking that address several behaviors including: staying alert and watching what you are cooking, keeping things that can catch fire apart from heat sources, knowing what to do if you have a cooking fire and your clothes catch fire, properly installing and using cooking equipment, preventing and treating scalds and burns, and having working smoke alarms.
A copy of the report and educational tools can be downloaded at www.usfa.dhs.gov.