Smoke alarms not present in two-thirds of home fire fatalities: report

November 2, 2011

Quincy, MA – Between 2005 and 2009, about two-thirds of fire-related fatalities occurred in homes without properly operating smoke alarms, finds a recent report (.pdf file) from the National Fire Protection Association.

Researchers tracked the presence of smoke alarms at fires in U.S. homes and whether they were operational at the time of the fire. NFPA analyzed common reasons for smoke alarms not activating during a fire, smoke alarm failures and the effectiveness of operational smoke alarms in alerting residents of a fire.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Fatalities doubled in homes without an operational smoke alarm, compared with ones with operational ones.
  • More than one-third (38 percent) of residential fire fatalities occurred in homes without any smoke alarms.
  • Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of fire-related fatalities occurred in homes with smoke alarms that did not activate in the presence of a fire.
  • About two-thirds (65 percent) of smoke alarms were battery-powered only, 28 percent were powered by battery and electricity, and 8 percent were electricity-powered only.