NFPA Report: Home Fire Deaths Decrease Sharply in 2002


The number of people who died in home fires dropped 14.1
percent last year compared to 2001, according to the annual
report on fire loss by the National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA). The NFPA study found that 2,670 people
died in home fires in 2002, the lowest number the NFPA has
ever recorded.

The latest results continue a decades-long trend toward
safer homes. The home fire death toll in 2002 was 54
percent lower than in 1977 when comparable statistics were
first developed. The reduction is especially significant
because four out of five fire deaths occur in the home.

The NFPA analyzed survey results from 3,460 fire
departments in the United States. The study found that 1.69
million fires were reported to America’s 30,000-plus fire
departments in 2002, a decrease of 2.7 percent from 2001.
About half the fires occurred outside, 30 percent in
structures and 20 percent in vehicles.

Among the structure fires, three out of four happened in
homes (one- and two-family dwellings and apartments). Home
fires were also responsible for 79 percent of total
civilian fire deaths. Overall, there were 3,380 civilian
fire deaths in 2002, a decrease of 9.8 percent from the
previous year, exclusive of fires connected to the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks.

Nationwide in 2002, a fire department responded to a fire
every 19 seconds, and a civilian died in a fire every 2½

Not only did fewer people die in fires in 2002, but fewer
were injured. There were 18,425 civilian injuries in fires,
a decrease of 9.2 percent from 2001 and the lowest number
since 1977. Three-quarters of these injuries occurred in
homes. Fire also caused an estimated $10.3 billion in
direct property damage, a decrease of 2.2 percent. More
than half the total property loss also occurred in homes.

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