"While there are many similarities between fires in rural and non-rural areas, there are also many differences. Some of the differences, such as the higher incidence of heating fires in rural areas, point to issues that need to be considered when designing public education programs to reduce the number of fires and the deaths, injuries, and property loss associated with rural fires. For the purposes of this report, 'rural' is defined as all counties that have populations of fewer than 20,000 persons and that are generally not adjacent to metropolitan areas. […] This report is based on two different data sets: data on fire incidents from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Six years of mortality data (1983- 1988) and three years of NFIRS data (1993-1995) serve as the basis for the findings in this report. […] There are some fundamental differences in the nature of the rural fire problem compared to non-rural differences. Among these differences are the causes of rural fires and the characteristics of residential structure fires, including how they start, where they originate, and how often smoke alarms are present and in operational condition."
U.S. Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/