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Monday March 20, 2017

NFPA Reviews Data behind Upholstered Furniture Fires

Smoking materials accounted for 27% of the ignition sources in upholstered furniture fires in 2010-2014, according to a report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The document, made available March 13, also noted that such fires account for about half of the associated deaths. Meanwhile, small open flames accounted for 20% of the fires and 12% of the deaths. That category included candles (9% of fires and 2% of deaths) and lighters (9% of fires and 9% of deaths).

 

Other heat sources associated with upholstered furniture ignitions (fires/deaths) were hot embers or ash (11%/12%), arcing (9%/6%), unclassified hot/smoldering item (6%/5%), heat radiated from operating equipment (7%/5%), and unclassified heat from powered equipment (5%/4%).

 

NFPA also looked at certain activities and product types, adding intentional fires (15%/4%), play (7%/NA), electrical distribution/lighting equipment (16%/12%), heating equipment (12%/11%), and fans or air conditioners (3%/NA).

 

The report (bit.ly/2nw62JN), dated February also looks at:

  • Victim Behavior: Sleep (11%/27%), unattended/unsupervised (8%/2%), possible alcohol/drug impairment (7%/ 15%), age as a factor (4%/5%), possible mental disability (2%/2%), multiple people/different activity (1%/2%), physical disability (1%/9%), and no human factor (68%/48%).
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  • Contributing Factors: Abandoned/discarded materials (26%/37), heat close to combustibles (23%/15%), electrical failure/malfunction (14%), unclassified misuse of materials (13%/21%), unclassified factor (8%/9%), play (7%/ NA), mechanical failure (NA/2%).

Annual counts over the five years analyzed ranged from 5,400-5,900 fires, 370-570 deaths, 670-740 injuries, and $255-$298 million in direct property damage. NFPA also provided such numbers back to 1980, showing sharp decline from 36,900 fires, 1,360 deaths, 2,790 injuries, and $633 million in damages adjusted to 2014 dollars.