Losses from Major Fires Up

Losses from Major Fires Up

United States losses from major fires declined by more than 20 percent last year, the National Fire Protection Association reported.

Property destroyed in 1968 by largeloss fires totaled $314,363,000. This was approximately $90,000,000 below the previous year’s total.

This report, compiled annually by NFPA, includes only fires individually causing a quarter million dollars or more in damage. These are the fires, the association points out, which in almost all instances started small but grew to destructive size because of failure to use adequate protection measures.

Only 487 fires—a small fraction of all 1968 fires in the United States—were responsible for this $314,363,000 loss. They involved buildings of all types, industrial facilities, transportation equipment, forests, and other property.

Earlier estimates reported by NFPA indicate there were about 2,400,000 fires of all sizes in this country during the past year, with losses totaling in the neighborhood of $2,180,000,000.

In Canada, major fires in 1968 numbered 67 and destroyed $333,119,000 worth of property, down $5,870,000 from the previous year’s 76 large-loss fires. This was the second consecutive year in which Canadian fires decreased both in number and in dollar loss.

Principal factors permitting minor building fires to develop into major fire losses in 1968, the study shows, included construction weaknesses, absence of protective sprinkler and alarm systems, and the fire hazards inherent in the contents of structures which burned. Frequently found examples of structural weaknesses which violated fire safety standards were missing division walls and unenclosed stairways and elevators. In many cases, these structural designs allowed fire to sweep throughout a building, instead of being confined near the area where it originated, according to the analysis by the NFPA staff.

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