According to the latest statistics from NFPA, only 4% of all fire department responses in 2014 were to fires. Some in the national press, and perhaps in your own town or city, have suggested a declining fire threat warrants a reduction in public investment in fire response resources.
That suggestion, of course, is absurd. New research from the NFPA douses those arguments rather effectively.
Trends and Patterns of U.S. Fire Loss, released in February, shows that, during the past three decades, the number of fire-department responses has increased sharply, with the largest increase in medical and rescue calls.
While it is true that in 2014 fire calls fell to 4% of all calls, home structure fires remain a serious concern:
In 2014, structure fires accounted for 38% of reported fires, with home structure fires representing 28% of the total. Home structure fires caused 84% of all civilian fire deaths, 75% of civilian fire injuries, and 59% of total direct property damage. Vehicle fires accounted for 15% of the reported fires.
The study indicates that the decline of fire-related responses is due primarily to a drop in vehicle fires and outside unclassified fires.
Even more troubling, the NFPA reports that civilian fire deaths rose in 2014 for a second year (3,275) after a record low in 2012 (2,855). Home-structure fire deaths increased 15% from 2012 to 2014. Since 1977, however, we’re trending in the right direction, as fire deaths per million population have fallen 70%.
Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr
President and Chair of the Board