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Fire Loss in the United States and Canada


Written by:
National Fire Protection Association,
#1 Batterymarch Park,
Quincy, MA 02269
Fire Analysis and Research Division

  • In 1999, public fire departments attended 1,823,000 fires in the United States, of which 523,000 occurred in structures, 368,500 occurred in vehicles, and 931,500 occurred in outside properties. Every 17 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States.

  • In 1999, there were 3,570 civilian (non-firefighters) fire deaths, a moderate decrease of 11.5% from the previous year, these included 2,895 deaths from fires in the home, a moderate decrease of 10.0%. About 81% of all U.S. fire deaths occurred in home fires.
    Nationwide, there was a civilian fire death every 147 minutes.

  • The civilian fire death rate in the United States in 1999 was 13.1 deaths per million people.

  • In 1999, there were an estimated 21,875 civilian fire injuries, of which 16,050 occurred in homes. Nationwide, there was a civilian fire injury every 24 minutes.

  • In 1995, Canadian fire departments responded to 64,300 fire incidents, causing 399 civilian deaths, 2,455 injuries, and $1.111 billion (Canadian) in direct property damage.

  • The civilian fire death rate in Canada in 1995 was 13.3 deaths per million people.

  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of civilian deaths in the United States and Canada, accounting for roughly one-fourth of the total in both countries.

    United States Fire Service

  • In 1999, there were 1,065,150 firefighters in the United States, serving in 30,436 departments. Of these firefighters, 279,900 were career and 785,250 were volunteer.

  • All career fire departments totaled 1,752 (or 5.7 % of all departments) in 1999, protecting 43.2% of the population. Mostly career departments totaled 1,639 (5.4% of all departments), protecting 16.2% of the population. Mostly volunteer departments totaled 4,651 (15.3% of all departments), protecting 17.1% of the population. All volunteer departments totaled 22,394 (73.6% of all departments), protecting 23.5% of the population.

  • In 1999, a total of 112 firefighters were fatally injured while on duty. Of these, 38 were career, 70 were volunteer, and 4 were non-municipal (those not employed by local, public fire departments).

  • In 1999, 88,500 firefighters were injured in the line of duty. Of those, 45,550 occurred on the fireground.

    False Alarms in the United States

  • In 1999, United States fire departments responded to 2,039,000 false alarms. Of the total of false alarms, 901,500 are estimated to result from a system malfunction, 304,000 are malicious, 605,000 unintentional, as well as some 228,500 others, such as bomb scares.

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