How Many House Fires Per Year? 52 House Fire Statistics (2024)

The occurrence of house fires is a significant concern nationwide, posing threats to property, lives, and community safety.

Understanding the frequency and causes of these incidents is crucial for implementing effective preventive measures and fire-safe practices.

Residential fires can start for various reasons, including electrical faults, cooking accidents, or heating malfunctions such as with space heaters.

The two main U.S. organizations that track residential fires are the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Both of these groups use different methods to track home fires and results in slightly different data.

In this guide, we’ll explore key statistics of house fires in the USA, aiming to provide information that is accessible and easy to understand.

Top 12 House Fire Statistics – (Editor’s Choice)

  • An average of 361,450 house fires occurred every year from 2013-2022.
  • 387,000 residential fires occurred in 2018 which was the highest year since 2013-2022.
  • 338,800 home fires happened in 2021 which was the lowest year since 2013-2022.
  • An average of 2,017 fatalities occurred every year since 2013-2022.
  • There were 2,760 deaths in the latest published data for 2022.
  • $10.9 billion dollars of residential property loss occurred in 2022.
  • 50% of all residential structure fires is caused by cooking.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of home fires that lead to fatalities.
  • Most home fires occur during November to March and in the 5pm to 8pm time range.
  • The odds of a single home catching on fire are 0.25% per year.
  • Temperatures can rise to 600°F at eye level and 100°F at floor level within minutes.
  • Occupants only have 3-minutes to safely escape a modern home fire.
house fire statistics (1)

How Many Fires Per Year?

The number of residential fires has remained stagnant over the last decade.

With the most recent years of published data (2013 to 2022) from the National Fire Protection Association, the number of home fires averages to be 361,450 per year.

The lowest year was in 2021 with 338,000 residential fires, and the highest year was in 2018 with 387,000 fires.

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Number of House Fires Since 1977

The amount of residential structure fires has decreased greatly in the past 100 years according to the National Fire Protection Association.

House fires have declined 54% from over 734,000 in 1980 to 338,000 in 2021.

The reasons for this large slowing of residential fires have been attributed to building code improvements, smoke detector usage, and modern heating and cooking appliances.

house fires nfpa 1977-2021 (1)

5 Primary Causes of House Fires

There are 5 primary causes of residential structure fires in the United States which include:

  1. Cooking (49%)
  2. Heating Equipment (Space heaters etc.) (13%)
  3. Electrical and Lighting (9%)
  4. Intentional/Arson (9%)
  5. Smoking (Cigarettes, Cigars etc.) (5%)

Cooking has been and likely will continue to be the leading cause of residential house fires. Cooking was also the leading cause of injuries but not fatalities.

house fire causes

An average of 166,430 home fires are caused by cooking each year (2016 to 2020) which is almost half of all reported fires.

The main reason why cooking causes so many fires is due to people leaving the range or cooktop unattended.

Causes of Fire Deaths

Even though cooking is the leading cause of total home fires and injuries, smoking has led the cause for actual fatalities from home fires for decades.

  1. Smoking (24%)
  2. Cooking (20%)
  3. Heating Equipment (18%)
  4. Electrical/Lighting (15%)
  5. Intentional/Arson (14%)

Between 2016-2020, an average of 620 deaths occurred each year due to smoking related fires. 15,900 fires occur every year directly related to smoking.

One of the reasons why smoking leads to fire fatalities is that people fall asleep while the cigarette is still lit. It also makes the origin of the fire near occupants and by flammable materials (bed, sofa etc.)

Occupants can reduce their risk of fires by using fire-safe cigarettes and using deep ashtrays.

Where in the House Do Fires Start?

The reason why smoking can cause more fatalities than cooking fires is likely related to the location.

When fires start in the kitchen, the occupants are typically awake and will put out the fire.

But smoking related fires usually start in the bedroom and living room when the occupants may be asleep. Both of these rooms where fires start comprise around 50% of all fatalities.

Rooms Where Fire Starts | Fatalities

  1. Living room (26%)
  2. Bedroom (25%)
  3. Kitchen (17%)
  4. Unclassified Function Area (7%)

Rooms Where Fire Starts | Overall (Fatal & Non-Fatal)

  1. Kitchen (44%)
  2. Bedroom (6%)
  3. Outside Area (5%)
  4. Chimney or Flue (5%)
  5. Living Room (3%)

Home Fire Death Statistics

The NFPA recently reported that 2021 had the highest residential fire fatalities since 2007, a 14-year high.

Even though the overall trend of house fires has greatly declined since the 1970’s, the number of fatalities has remained stagnant and has had a recent uptick.

Experts theorize that the reason why house fires are more deadly than in the past is related to the widespread use of synthetic fiber, foam, and plastic.

Here is a quote from the NFPA Press Room:

“These statistics underscore a concerning trend: While the number of U.S. home fires has continued to decline over time, the home fire death rate has stagnated in recent years, with annual spikes like the most recent one seen in 2021.”

How Hot Do Home Fires Get?

Home fires can get as hot as 600°F at eye level and 100°F at floor level.

In rooms where the fire hasn’t reached, it can still reach over 300°F.

At 300°F or above, the heat can melt plastic and easily kill occupants.

Time Needed To Escape

It is estimated that occupants only have about 4-minutes to safely escape from a home fire.

Homes built prior to 1980 typically used solid lumber and the home was furnished with natural fibers which burns much slower.

It is estimated that occupants used to have up to 30-minutes to escape a home in the past.

But due to modern synthetic fibers and plastics (rugs, furniture, drapes etc.) and factory-made building materials — homes can catch fire and burn quicker than older products.

The synthetic materials also lead to a fast rise in toxic smoke throughout the home.

What Are The Chances of a House Fire?

It is estimated that there are 144,000,000 million residential homes in the U.S.

With an average of 361,450 home fires each year (2013-2022), the odds of a home catching on fire is approximately 1 in 3000.

There are approximately 41 residential structure fires every hour in the United States.

Lithium-Ion Battery Fires

The incidence of lithium-ion battery fires in homes is on the rise.

With the increased use of e-scooters, e-bikes, and other vehicles — battery fires are becoming more prevalent.

This is especially true with uncertified batteries that aren’t UL-listed. UL-listed lithium-ion batteries are made to modern safety standards.

216 fires were reported in New York City alone that were related to battery fires from e-bikes and e-scooters. The New York Fire Department (FDNY) currently responds to a battery fire almost every single day.

House Fire Prevention Tips

  • Interconnected Smoke Alarms: If just one interconnected smoke alarm goes off, then ALL of the other alarms will go off at the same time. When a smoke alarm detects a fire in the basement, it will cause all the smoke alarms in the bedrooms to go off at the same time. Homeowners can buy wireless interconnected smoke alarms for a less costly installation. The risk of dying from a home fire is reduced by 50% with the use of smoke alarms.
  • Close Bedroom Doors: Simply closing the bedroom door when sleeping can help people survive a home fire. During a fire, smoke first travels up (heat rises) and reaches the floor last. It also helps to compartmentalize the fire and prevent feeding it with oxygen.

Conclusion

The number of residential fires has dropped significantly since the early 1970’s but there are still over 361,450 on average per year from 2013 to 2022.

And even though house fires have decreased, the number of residential fire fatalities has remained stagnant and even surged in 2021.

It’s clear that education and proactive steps, such as installing smoke detectors and practicing fire safety drills, play a pivotal role in safeguarding our homes and loved ones.

Let’s work together to prioritize fire prevention and create safer living environments for everyone.

For more related content, check out where to place smoke detectors, dryer vent code to prevent fires, and diagnosing a burning smell from the dryer.

Sources

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