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Wilderness and structural fires alike lead to loss of life and property, yet unlike wildfires, home destruction and similar structural disasters can often be prevented with observation of fire safety guidelines and regulations, community vigilance, and the service of well-trained and equipped fire departments nationwide. In today’s Viz, we highlight fire-related statistics covering the US during the period from 1977 to 2015.

According to the latest statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, in 2015, roughly 1.3 million fires were reported in the US, a 3.7 percent increase from 2014. Fires injured 15,700 civilians, killed another 3,280, and caused $14.3 billion in property damage. By fire type, structural fires caused the highest loss of lives and property:

  • 501,500 structure fires caused 13,000 civilian injuries, 2,685 civilian deaths, and $10.3 billion in property damage.
  • 204,500 vehicle fires caused 1,875 civilian fire injuries, 500 civilian deaths, and $1.8 billion in property damage.
  • 639,500 outside and other fires caused 825 civilian fire injuries, 95 civilian fire deaths, and $252 million in property damage.

The diverse responsibilities of and increasing calls to fire departments highlight the importance of departments to local communities and the potentially costly tradeoffs in performing such a diverse array of services. Firefighters in the US today respond to fires, hazardous materials breaches, medical aid alerts, and other emergency situations.

  • While the annual number of reported fires has trended downward during the last 30 years, fire department responses have nearly tripled from 11,888,000 in 1985 to 33,602,500 in 2015.
  • Home fires are the leading cause of civilian fire injuries and deaths and contribute the most to property loss due to fire but fires (all types) made up only 4 percent of fire department responses in 2015. Nearly 65 percent of fire department responses were to render medical aid.

How prepared are you and your community to deal with home, business, and vehicle fires? Wildfires? In 2015, one civilian fire injury was reported every 34 minutes in the US, one death every 2 hours and 40 minutes. These tolls on human life could be viewed as a testament to the strength of US fire response and prevention given that fire departments in the US had to respond to a fire every 23 seconds.

See also: US Fire Departments and Firefighters | US Fire Geography

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