Page 29

October_2016_BSJ

America’s ‘Fire Problem’: Myth or Reality? continued reports typically are about two years old. The goal of a real-time, accurate database remains elusive. WHAT THE DATA TELL US While the data show improvements in U.S. fire incidence over the last generation, there remain disturbing trends. Figure 2 summarizes fire deaths from 1977–2014. The raw numbers of civilian home fire deaths show a downturn from 1977 (with a few anomalous spikes), yet the number of deaths per 1,000 fires has not changed significantly in almost four decades. We can celebrate the successes of the decline in individual deaths, but we must remain concerned about the number per thousand. A great concern, though, as America’s population ages, is that “the rate of death due to fire among people aged 85 and over (3.6 per 100,000) was more than twice as high in 2012–2013 as the rate among people aged 65–74 (1.7 per 100,000).” Furthermore, as demographics show, “the death rate due to fire was more than twice as high for non- Hispanic black adults as for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic adults.”10 Equally telling is the amount of property damage fires cause: NFPA estimates that the 1,298,000 fires to which the fire service responded in 2014 caused $11,605,000,000 in property damage, 0.7 percent more than the year before. Fires in structures resulted in $9,846,000,000 in property damage, an increase of 3.4 percent from 2013. Each structure fire resulted in an average property loss of $19,931, an increase of 2 percent from the previous year. From 1977 to 2014, excluding the events of September 11, 2001, the average loss per structure fire was $3,757 in 1977 and $19,931 in 2014, Figure 2. Fire Death Numbers and Rates per Year, 1977–2014 Source: Fire death rates in the United States from 1977 through 2014. Reprinted with permission from NFPA’s report, “Fire Loss in the United States During 2014,” by Hylton J. G. Haynes © 2015, National Fire Protection Association Figure 3. Property Loss per Structure Fire, 1977–2014 Source: Fire death rates in the United States from 1977 through 2014. Reprinted with permission from NFPA’s report, “Fire Loss in the United States During 2014,” by Hylton J. G. Haynes © 2015, National Fire Protection Association. OCTOBER 2016 | 29


October_2016_BSJ
To see the actual publication please follow the link above