USFA releases data on civilian fire fatalities

September 7, 2011

Emmitsburg, MD – Smoking is the leading cause of fatal residential building fires, according to a report (.pdf file) released Sept. 7 by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Between 2007 and 2009, 2,630 civilian fatalities resulted from 1,700 residential fires. The report found that 17 percent of these fires were caused by smoking, and an additional 16 percent were caused by unintentional, careless action. Combined, these two causes resulted in one-third of all civilian fire deaths in residential buildings between 2007 and 2009.

Slightly more than half of civilian fire fatalities took place in the bedroom, and between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Thirty-six percent of victims were trying to escape at the time of their death, while 34 percent were sleeping.

USFA urges homeowners to take measures to protect their homes from fire during National Preparedness Month, recognized in September. “Install smoke alarms on every floor of your house, test them once a month, change the batteries at least once a year, and make and practice a home fire emergency plan,” said Glenn Gaines, USFA administrator.