"Each year, there are an estimated 405,000 fires in residential structures, which cause nearly 3,600 fatalities, 18,600 injuries, and $4.7 billion in property loss. Given the enormity of the U.S. fire problem, fire service and public health experts are constantly seeking programs/devices that will reduce the number of lives lost and property destroyed by fire." Since 1970 when battery-powered smoke alarms were first introduced, smoke alarms have become a familiar presence in American homes. By 2000, they were installed in nearly 94% of U.S. households. This topical report [revised December 2001] examines the performance of smoke alarms in residential structure fires. Particular attention is given to fatal fires, especially those with multiple victims."
United States Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/
United States Fire Administration Topical Fire Research Series (March 2001), v.1 no.15