Non-residential building fires report
According to data collected by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and released in a new report, each year (from 2014 to 2016) fire departments responded to an estimated 100,300 fires in non-residential buildings across the nation. These fires resulted in an annual average of 90 deaths; 1,350 injuries; and $2.4 billion in property losses. Although national estimates for 2014 to 2016 show that non-residential building fires represented only eight percent of all fires, three percent of fire deaths and nine percent of fire injuries, they accounted for 20 percent of the total dollar loss from all fires.
Non-residential building fires can also have a significant economic impact on a community as they may lead to lost jobs and closed businesses. In addition, because many non-residential buildings are places where a large number of people gather, they hold the greatest potential for a mass casualty incident to occur.
The term “non-residential buildings,” a subset of non-residential structures, includes enclosed structures and fixed portable or mobile structures. The majority of non-residential fires, deaths and injuries occur in buildings, and that is where prevention efforts are most often targeted. Specifically, non-residential buildings include assembly places; eating and drinking establishments; educational and institutional facilities; stores and offices; detached garages; basic industry, manufacturing and storage facilities; as well as outside and other miscellaneous nonresidential buildings. They also include institutions, such as prisons, nursing homes, juvenile care facilities, and hospitals — though many people may temporarily reside there for short (or long) periods of time.
Below are some key findings from the report:
- Cooking was the leading cause of all non-residential building fires (30 percent). Nearly all non-residential building cooking fires were small, confined fires (94 percent).
- Outside and special properties accounted for the most non-residential building fires (22 percent), while storage buildings accounted for the most non-residential building fire deaths (24 percent).
- Non-residential building fires occurred most frequently from 1 to 7 p.m.
- Non-confined non-residential building fires most often started in vehicle storage areas (nine percent).
- In 59 percent of non-confined non-residential building fires, the fire extended beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of these larger fires were other unintentional or careless actions (22 percent) and exposures (12 percent).
- Misuse of material or product (32 percent) was the leading category of factors contributing to ignition in non-confined non-residential building fires.
- Smoke alarms were not present in 52 percent of the larger, non-confined fires in occupied non-residential buildings.
- Automatic extinguishing systems were reported as present in 20 percent of non-confined fires in occupied non-residential buildings.
The USFA statistical reports explore aspects of U.S. fires that affect Americans in their daily lives. Primarily based on data collected through its National Fire Incident Reporting System, the reports address the nature and relevance of specific fires or fire-related problems, highlight important findings, and suggest other resources to consider for further information.