USFA: ‘Careless’ actions, smoking leading causes of civilian fire deaths

March 21, 2012

Emmitsburg, MD – Slightly more than half of all fire-related fatalities in residential buildings occur in the bedroom, and most often are caused by smoking or “careless” placement of combustible materials, according to a report (.pdf file) released March 14 by the U.S. Fire Administration.

The findings are the result of an analysis of 2008-2010 fatality data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System.

Among the report's other findings:

  • More than 90 percent of residential fatalities involved thermal burns and smoke inhalation.
  • More than one-third of residential fatalities occurred when the victim was sleeping, and one-third occurred while trying to escape a fire.
  • About 44 percent of residential fatalities occurred among victims between 40 and 69 years old, and 13 percent occurred among children younger than 10.