Fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated 1.6 million fires during 2006. These fires caused 3,245 civilian deaths and 16,400 injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The number of fires increased slightly by about 3 percent from 2005 to 2006 while fire deaths fell 12 percent and fire injuries were down by 8 percent.
The total number of people who died from fires in 2006 (excluding firefighters) was the lowest since NFPA began collecting this data in 1977, and 4 percent lower than the previous low of 3,380 in 2002. The number of fire death varies from year to year, with most of the variation in fire deaths occurring in communities with populations under 10,000.
NFPA’s study, Fire Loss in the United States During 2006, offers a detailed account of fire loss for the previous year and an analysis over time based on new information.
In 2006, the annual snapshot of fire loss in the United States showed that every 19 seconds a fire department responded to a fire somewhere in the U.S. Someone died every two hours and 42 minutes from a fire and someone was injured every 32 minutes. A fire occurred in a structure every minute, in a residence every minute and 16 seconds, and in a vehicle nearly every 2 minutes.
Direct property loss from fires in 2006 was roughly $11 billion, an increase of 6 percent from 2005. Nearly $7 billion of these losses resulted from fires in residential dwellings.
As in previous years, most fire deaths occurred in homes; home fires accounted for about 80 percent of all fire deaths. Eighty percent of all structure fires also occurred in the homes. One and two-family dwellings accounted for 58 percent of the structure fires and apartments accounted for 17 percent. In 2006, 2,580 people died from home fires, a decease of 15 percent from the prior year.
Although vehicle fires declined 4 percent from the previous year, they remained second to structures as the second leading cause of fire deaths in the United States in 2006. There were 278,000 vehicle fires that resulted in 490 deaths, 1,200 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage.