Fire! Residential Building Fires Cause $7 Billion in Property Loss Annually
Did you hear the collective sigh coming from the fire station recently? This could be the reason: According to a study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during the spring and summer months, fire incidences decline steadily, and reach a low in September. Feel safer now? Don’t get too comfortable.
Let’s look at some other published numbers and see what we can learn. In case you’re wondering, the months with the highest incidents of fire are November through March with January the peak month. That makes sense. During the colder months heating fires rise, and we tend to be indoors more celebrating seasonal holidays, too. Does it make a difference whether we’re home or not? Looking at the times alarms are reported says yes. Residential fires occur most frequently in the early evening hours, peaking during the dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m. The incidence of cooking fires is high then, accounting for almost 48% of residential fires. This is by far the largest cause of all home fires, beating out the next one – heating fires 12% – by a 36% margin. And cooking fires jump to 79% of the cause of multi-family buildings. Be careful in the kitchen!
In one- and two-family home fires, heating and electrical malfunctions played a larger role than in multifamily fires. This could be because many one- and two-family residential buildings have fireplaces, chimneys and fireplace-related equipment that most of other types of residential properties do not have. With autumn and winter approaching (shudder!), it’s a good time to have your, and any other fireplace equipment, like those inserts, chimney cleaned and inspected as well. It’s also a good idea to have any heating system ducts inspected and cleaned once a year, too, including your dryer duct.
Other causes of uncontained home fires include electrical malfunction, open flame and just plain carelessness. Cooking, Intentional, heating, other heat, appliances and smoking round out the top ten.
Also of note, is that the kitchen or cooking area is the top place of origin for residential fires at 20% (not surprising), followed by the bedroom at 12% and the family room, living room or den at 7%. It’s also interesting to note that about 4% of non-confined residential fires start in a garage or carport.
What catches fire first? There are numbers for that, too. Almost 34 percent of the items first ignited in non-confined residential fires fell under the “structural component, finish” category. This category includes structural members or framing and exterior sidewall coverings. The second leading category of items first ignited was “general materials,” which accounted for 17 percent of these fires. This includes items such as electrical wire, cable insulation, and trash or rubbish. There’s your next assignment. Got any trash or rubbish lying around? Removing the “fuel” from the fuel-heat-oxygen triangle will go a long way toward keeping your home safe.
You can read the full report and see all the data at: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v16i1.pdf
The folks at Freedom Insurance want to help keep you and your family safe and worry-free. Call them today for a free home owner’s insurance estimate and get a good night’s sleep!