Study: High-Rise Fires Cause $235M in Property Damage Per Year

QUINCY, Mass. — There was an average of 15,700 reported high-rise building fires per year from 2005 to 2009, according to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) latest report. The fires caused an estimated $235 million in direct property damage.

Apartments, hotels, offices and healthcare facilities accounted for roughly half of all high-rise fires, according to the report titled, “High-Rise Building Fires.” Additionally, those fires resulted in $99 million in direct property damage per year.

The report also noted that most high-rise building fires begin on floors no higher than the sixth story. The risk of fire is greater on the lower floors for apartment buildings, hotels, motels and healthcare facilities. However, the risk is greater on the upper levels of office buildings.

Other key findings include:

  • High-rise     fires claimed the lives of 53 civilians and injured 546 others, per year     between 2005 to 2009
  • The     risks of fire, fire death, and direct property damage due to fire tend to     be lower in high-rise buildings than in shorter buildings of the same     property use.
  • An     estimated 3 percent of all 2005-2009 reported structure fires were in     high-rise buildings.
  • Usage     of wet pipe sprinklers and fire detection equipment is higher in high-rise     buildings than in other buildings of the same property use.

Currently, there is a downward trend in high-rise fires, according to NFPA. In the last few decades, a range of special provisions have migrated into the codes and standards for tall buildings.

NFPA Division Manager of Building Fire Protection Robert Solomon will discuss the code changes that affect high-rise building construction at the Fire & Life Safety Conference on Dec. 12-14 in Orlando, Fla.


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