NFPA Journal - March/April 2013 - (Page 77)
NFPA RESEARCH REPORTS IN BRIEF
Home Candle Fires
From 2006 to 2010, U.S. fire departments
responded to an estimated
average of 11,640 home structure
fires started by candles every year.
These fires caused an annual average
of 126 civilian deaths, 953 civilian fire
injuries, and $438 million in property
damage. Candles caused 3 percent of
the reported home fires, 5 percent of
home fire deaths, 7 percent of home
fire injuries, and 6 percent of direct
property damage during this period.
On average, 32 home candle fires were
reported each day.
Roughly one-third of home candle
fires started in bedrooms and caused
42 percent of the associated deaths
and 45 percent of the associated injuries.
The 16 percent of fires that started
in living rooms, family rooms, or
dens caused 20 percent of the deaths.
Fourteen percent of these candle fires
started in bathrooms, while 11 percent
began in kitchens.
Candle fires start with a variety of
burnable items. Eleven percent began
with a mattress or bedding and caused
17 percent of the home candle fire
deaths. Furniture or utensils were
the item first ignited in 11 percent of
these fires, and 9 percent started when
a curtain, blinds, or drapery ignited.
Cabinetry was first ignited in 8 percent
of the fires and upholstered furniture
in 6 percent of the fires, resulting in a
quarter of the home candle fire deaths.
Twelve percent of the home candle
fires occurred in December, 1.5 times
the monthly average of 8 percent.
December candle fires often involve
seasonal decorations that are not present
at other times of the year. From
January to November, decorations
were first ignited in only 4 percent
of home candle fires. However, this
jumped to 11 percent in December.
The top three days for home candle
fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day,
and Christmas Eve.
More than half of the home candle
fires occurred when some form of
combustible material was too close to
the candle, which should be kept at
least 12 inches (30 centimeters) from
anything that can burn.
Unattended equipment or
abandoned materials or products
contributed to one of every five home
candle fires, and four percent were
started by people, usually children,
playing with the candle. Two percent
started when the candle was bumped
into or knocked over. An improper
container or storage was a factor in
another 2 percent of the fires. In 11
percent of the home candle fires,
the occupant fell asleep and left the
candle burning unattended; these fires
accounted for 43 percent of the associated
From 1980, the first year of available
data, to 1990, the number of home
candle fires fell. They then started
climbing until they peaked in 2001.
Home candle fires have fallen since
then, but the estimate of 9,600 fires
reported in 2010 is still 1.4 times the
6,800 reported in 1990, the previous
low. The number of candle fires was
stable from 2009 to 2010.
The share of home structure fires
started by candles jumped from 1 percent
in the early 1980s to 5 percent in
1999, 2001, and 2002, partly because
the total number of home fires has
declined since 1980 and partly because
candle fires increased. The share fell
to 4 percent from 2004 to 2006, inclusive.
In 2007, the share dropped to 3
percent and has remained there.
Home Structure Fires Involving
JOHN R. HALL, JR.
From 2006 to 2010, an estimated
2,920 reported U.S. home structure
fires involving kitchen equipment,
but excluding cooking equipment,
resulted in annual averages of 6 civilian
deaths, 82 civilian injuries, and
$75 million in direct property damage.
Nearly all home fires involving kitchen
equipment, but excluding cooking
equipment, involved refrigerators and
freezers or dishwashers.
Refrigerators, stand-alone freezers,
and separate ice makers together
were involved in 1,710 home structure
fires reported to U.S. fire departments
per year, resulting in 2 civilian deaths,
56 civilian injuries, and $50 million
in direct property damage per year.
Roughly three out of five of these
fires began with ignition of appliance
housing or casing or of wire or cable
insulation, and one-third of them began
in a room other than the kitchen, starting
with the garage. These appliances
were also involved in an estimated
49,660 injuries reported to hospital
emergency rooms in 2011. Most of
these injuries did not involve burns or
fire but sprains or strains, contusions or
abrasions, lacerations, and fractures.
Dishwashers were involved in 1,130
home structure fires that resulted in 2
civilian deaths, 19 civilian injuries, and
$23 million in direct property damage
per year. Roughly three-quarters of
these fires also began with ignition of
appliance housing or casing or of wire
or cable insulation. Dishwashers were
involved in 9,790 injuries reported to
hospital emergency rooms in 2011.
The other equipment types in this
group—garbage disposers, blenders,
juicers, food processors, can openers,
coffee grinders, and knife sharpeners—
collectively were involved in 90 home
structure fires during this period.
Home Fires Involving Cooking
Cooking is, and has long been, the
leading cause of home structure fires
and civilian home fire injuries. Between
2006 and 2010, U.S. fire departments
responded to an estimated average of
157,300 home structure fires in which
cooking equipment was involved in the
MARCH/APRIL 2013 NFPA JOURNAL
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - March/April 2013
NFPA Journal - March/April 2013
In a Flash
Cover Story: Storage Occupancies
Fifty Years of Smoke Detection
Fire Analysis + Research
NFPA Journal - March/April 2013