Fire Deaths in the United States: Review of Data Sources and Range of Estimates   [open pdf - 1MB]

"Over the past decade, it has often been reported that approximately 12,000 fire deaths occur in the United States each year. To check the validity of this estimate and to identify the population groups most affected and the causes of the fires in which deaths occur, a study of fire death data was undertaken. The fire death data examined revealed large differences in estimates derived from various data sources in the annual rate of fire deaths in the United States. The range was 6,000 to 12,000 deaths per year. We think the range 7,000 to 9,000 is most plausible, but further analysis is needed to be sure. However, all sources indicated that the fire death rate in the United States has declined during the period 1970-1974. Annual fire death rates based on data in State fire marshal reports from the years 1970-1975 indicate that between 29 and 35 fire deaths per million population occur each year. These death rates projected nationally mean that 6,000 to 7,400 fire deaths occur in the United States each year. The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare [HEW] vital statistics mortality data for the 1970 to 1974 period provide another source of fire death rates, but they exclude motor vehicle accident fire deaths. The number of annual fire-related motor vehicle accident deaths were calculated from data in special studies of motor vehicle accident deaths and added to the HEW reported fire deaths. The maximum yearly number of motor vehicle accident fire deaths was estimated to be 1,270, the minimum 280."

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