Factors that Contribute to Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment
The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home heating fires was a failure to clean equipment, a factor often seen in chimney fires. Fires in which the heat source was too close to combustibles were associated with the largest shares of civilian deaths, civilian injuries, and direct property damage. Anything that can burn should be kept at least three feet away from heating equipment, whether a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or space heater. Fires involving unattended heating equipment (7% of fires) accounted for a disproportionate share of losses – 13% of civilian deaths, 21% of civilian injuries, and 10% of direct property damage. While unattended equipment is not itself a cause of fires, problems can start and grow unnoticed if no one is present.
Factors Contributing to Space Heater Fires
As noted, space heaters play an outsize role in igniting fires that result in civilian injuries or death. Over half of these fires occurred when a space heater was either positioned too close to combustible materials that could ignite or were left unattended. Fires involving space heaters too close to combustibles accounted for the majority of civilian deaths from space heater fires, as well as sizeable shares of civilian injuries and direct property damage. Other leading factors contributing to space heater fires include electrical failures or malfunctions, mechanical failures or malfunctions, and equipment that is accidentally turned on or not turned off.
The National Fire Protection Association thanks all the fire departments and state fire authorities who participate in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the annual NFPA fire experience survey. These firefighters are the original sources of the detailed data that make this analysis possible. Their contributions allow us to estimate the size of the fire problem.
We are also grateful to the U.S. Fire Administration for its work in developing, coordinating, and maintaining NFIRS.
To learn more about research at NFPA visit www.nfpa.org/research.
NFPA No. USS09