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Fires Cost U.S. $14.3 Billion in Property Damage in 2015

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Reports citing statistics compiled from the previous year can help inform our decisions on how to plan for the year ahead.

Surely one of the most sobering sets of statistics involve the damage caused by fires. In the United States last year, fires cost approximately $14.3 billion in property damage – an increase of 23.2 percent from 2014. That’s according to "Fire Loss in the United States in 2015", the most recent annual report released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The report compiles data on civilian fire deaths and injuries, property damage and intentionally set fires reported to the NFPA by public fire departments that responded to the 2015 National Fire Experience Survey.

Some of the other key findings:
-Over the last 15 years, the total number of fires that local municipal fire departments reported remains on a downward trend for a decrease of 21 percent. During that same period, however, the number of structure fires has remained relatively constant.
-There was a civilian fire death every 2 hours and 40 minutes and a civilian fire injury every 33.5 minutes in 2015. Residential fires caused 2,560, or 78 percent, of the civilian fire deaths.
-Public fire departments responded to 1,345,500 fires in 2015 – a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year. Of these, 501,500 fires involved structures, a slight increase of 1.5 percent.
-In terms of calls for service to fire departments, fires accounted for four percent of the 33,602,500 total. Eight percent of the calls were false alarms, while 64 percent of the calls were for aid such as EMS.

Estimates of civilian fire injuries are on the low side, the NFPA cautions, because many injuries are not reported to the responding fire service. This can occur at small fires to which fire departments don’t respond, or in situations in which when fire departments aren’t aware of injured people whom they didn’t take to medical facilities.

The report contains overall statistics from the NFPA survey of fire departments on fires, civilian deaths and injuries, and property damage in 2015. It also includes patterns by major property class, region and community size as well as information on types of fire department calls and false alarms. Fires that occur in areas of sparse population protected primarily by state and federal land management agencies are not likely to be included in the survey results.

The NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be found at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Tagged in: NFPA
Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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