Fire Facts

Knowing the Facts Is the Key to Fire Safety

Fire Deaths

  • In the United States, someone is fatally injured in a home fire roughly every 170 minutes.
  • In Canada, someone is fatally injured in a home fire roughly every 31 hours.
  • Smoking materials such as cigarettes, cigars and pipes are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. The majority of residential fires associated with smoking materials started because of careless or improper disposal.

Smoke Alarms

  • Fifteen of every 16 homes (94%) in the United States have at least one smoke alarm.
  • Having smoke alarms in your home reduces your chance of dying in a fire nearly in half.
  • One-half of home fire deaths occur in the 6% of homes with no smoke alarms.
  • In 3 of every 10 reported fires in homes equipped with smoke alarms, the devices did not work, most often because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries.
  • Only 8% of those surveyed whose smoke alarms had sounded in the past year thought it was a fire that caused the alarm to go off, and got out of their homes as a result.

Home Fire Sprinklers

  • Properly installed and maintained, automatic fire sprinkler systems help save lives.
  • Automatic fire sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire 82% relative to having neither - a savings of thousands of lives a year.

Home Escape Planning

  • According to an NFPA survey, 26% of Americans said they had never thought about practicing a home fire escape plan.
  • 3% said they did not believe that practice was necessary.
  • During the months of December, January and February, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires. Portable or fixed space heaters caused two-thirds of home heating fire deaths.


  • Over the last decade, candle fires have almost tripled. In 1999 alone, an estimated 15,040 home fires started by candles were reported to fire departments. These fires resulted in 102 deaths, 1,473 injuries and an estimated property loss of $278 million.
  • 40% of U.S. home candle fires begin in the bedroom.


  • More fires start in the kitchen than in any other place in the home.
  • Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.


  • Electrical fires and shocks kill hundreds of people and injure thousands each year.
  • In 1999, electrical distribution equipment was the fourth leading cause of home structure fires, but ranked first in cause of direct property damage.

Firefighting Equipment Facts

  • On February 10, 1863, the fire extinguisher was patented by Alanson Crane.
  • On January 1, 1853, the first practical fire engine was tested in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • On April 21, 1878, the nation's first firehouse pole was installed in New York City.
  • On May 30, 1821, the first rubber-lined cotton web fire hose was patented by J. Boyd of Boston.
  • On May 7, 1878, the fire escape ladder was patented by Joseph Winters.
  • On November 11, 1890, Daniel McCree of Chicago invented a portable fire escape ladder