Education: The Facts
"According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 366,600 residential structure fires per year from 2007—2011. These fires resulted in an estimated 2,570 civilian fire fatalities, 13,210 civilian injuries, and $7.2 billion in property damage per year.
"Children under 5 years of age are at the greatest risk from home fire death and injury; their death rate is nearly twice the national average. Each year, nearly 488 children ages 14 and under die in home fires, and another 116,600 children are injured from a fire/burn related incident." (Karter, 2010) (https://www.unitypoint.org/blankchildrens/fire-statistics.aspx)
Most people believe a fire is just not something that will happen to them or their loved ones. However, the NFPA estimates that (including unreported fires) a household will experience five fires over an average lifetime. While 96-97% of U.S. households have at least one smoke detector, those detectors were operational in just half (52 %) of reported residential fires and were present in only three-quarters of those households (73%). (http://www.homesafetyvisit.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/homesafetyvisit.org_.pdf)
Most fires are caused by cooking equipment, and three out of five residential fire fatalities occurred in homes without any working smoke detectors. Although existing organizations such as the Fire Department of New York and FEMA offer emergency response to these fires, USFS sees a gap in the current preventative measures currently implemented. (http://nfpatoday.blog.nfpa.org/2011/08/question-for-you-how-many-people-died-in-us-home-fires-every-day-.html)
Five million households still do not have fire alarms ( http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fire-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms-in-us-home-fires) and the current preventative measures could, according to FEMA, if increased by 2-3% have a significant effect in the prevention of death by fire. Simply having multiple, functional and up to date smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in every household could greatly decrease the number of civilian injuries and fatalities.
Not only would implementing USFS's Home Fire Prevention Program benefit civilians in individual households, but it is also a great benefit to the firefighters responding to residential calls. A family who uses USFS's program will be able to safely and efficiently escape in an emergency, eliminating the need for firefighters to enter a fully involved structure to search for victims, further endangering themselves and their co-workers in the process.
At USFS, we are particularly concerned with the vulnerability of children in the event of a house fire. Unfortunately, children are often the ones who accidentally set fires in their home, but with better education and practice, we can help reduce instances where children have the opportunity to set a fire. "Young firesetters cause hundreds of deaths and injuries each year. Preschoolers and kindergartners are most likely to start these fires, typically by playing with matches and lighters, and are most likely to die in them. Children experience fire interest. They may ask questions such as how hot is fire or show an interest in fire through playing with fire trucks or cooking on a play stove. This is healthy, and it is time to begin educating about fire. Firestarting happens when children begin to experiment with fire using matches and lighters. Many fires happen when young children are left alone, even for a short period of time, and have access to matches and lighters. Parents must have clear rules and consequences about fire misuse." (http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/top-causes-of-fire/young-firesetters/children-and-fire-safety-tips)
"Between 2007 and 2011, an average of 49,300 fires involving playing with fire were reported to U.S. municipal fire departments per year. These fires caused annual averages of 80 civilian deaths, 860 civilian injuries, and $235 million in property damage. Structure fires accounted for 23% of fires, but 98% of civilian deaths, 93% of civilian injuries, and 91% of property damage. Outside or unclassified fires accounted for three-quarters (76%) of the fires, and vehicle fires for 2%.
Two-thirds (67%) of structure fires involving play occurred in residential properties, with 64% in homes. Eleven percent began in outside or special properties (these include tunnels, bridges, vacant lots, etc.), and 7% began in educational properties.
Most deaths, injuries, and damage from child playing fires occur in home structure fires. An average of 7,100 home structure fires per year caused by play were reported between 2007 and 2011, causing annual averages of 77 civilian deaths, 750 civilian injuries, and $172 million in property damage. They are more common during the month of July, and peak between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Half of home playing structure fires (52%) had a lighter as their heat source, and matches were the heat source in 18% of fires. Fires started by lighters or matches caused 82% of civilian deaths.
Thirty-nine percent of these fires began in the bedroom, 8% in the kitchen and 6% in a living room, family room or den. A mattress or bedding was the item first ignited in 23% of these fires, while 10% began with magazines, newspapers, or writing paper and 9% began with rubbish, trash, or waste.
The majority of structure fires in homes caused by play were started by males (83%). Forty-three percent of the fires were started by a child under age 6. Older children were more likely to start outside fires, with two of five (38%) of all outside or unclassified fires started by a child between the ages of 10 and 12." (http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/fire-causes/arson-and-juvenile-firesetting/children-playing-with-fire)
"Often, children do not learn proper fire safety behavior such as dropping and rolling on the ground if clothing catches fire, crawling instead of running out of a house, or covering their mouths if it is smoky. Fire safety education is important and is powerful in preparing families and children for a fire emergency, especially when practiced." (https://www.unitypoint.org/blankchildrens/fire-statistics.aspx)
Fires don"t just occur in single family homes, they also occur in apartments buildings and high rises. Below is a link of a chart created by the NFPA showing statistics of apartment fires from the years 1980-2015. (http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/fires-by-property-type/residential/apartment-structure-fires)