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Monday February 15, 2021

Home Heating Linked to >48,500 House Fires Annually

Fire departments responded to an annual estimated average of 48,530 home structure fires caused by heating equipment in 2014-2018. That figure is according to a new report from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). These fires resulted in some 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in property damages.


The NFPA report ( stressed:

"Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in US homes. Heating equipment caused one in seven home structure fires (14%) that took place in 2014–2018, while also accounting for one-fifth (19%) of the home fire fatalities, one in seven injuries (12%), and 15 percent of the direct property damage resulting from home fires in 2014–2018."

On the other hand, the report noted that annual averages have fallen steadily this century from about 73,600 in 2002. The report suggested:

"Improvements in safety standards, such as those requiring automatic cut-off devices that turn off electric or kerosene space heaters when they tip over and more guarding around the heating coils of electric heaters and burners of kerosene heaters, are likely to have influenced the decline in the number of home heating fires."

For 2014-2018, outcomes-by-product data included:

  • Fires: Fixed/portable space heaters (44%), fireplaces/ chimneys (29%), central heat (12%), water heaters (10%).

  • Deaths: Fixed/portable space heaters (81%), fireplaces/ chimneys (9%), water heaters (4%), central heat (1%).

  • Injuries: Fixed/portable space heaters (80%), water heaters (8%), fireplaces/chimneys (5%), central heat (5%).

  • Damages: Fixed/portable space heaters (54%), fireplaces/ chimneys (23%), water heaters (9%), central heat (7%).

Reasons for fires included failure to clean (25%), mechanical failure/malfunction (17%), heat source too close to combustibles (16%), electrical failure/malfunction (9%), and equipment unattended (7%).


By fuel types, fires involved solid fuel (38%), electrical (also 38%), gas (18%), liquid (6%). Besides the report – which is narrative and charts – NFPA also issued supporting tables ( with data back to the 1980s.