"This report presents national estimates of indirect losses resulting from residential fires in the United States, where indirect losses are defined as costs other than direct property damage. Estimates of such losses, which include medical costs, temporary housing costs, lost wages, and a number of other components, are developed on the basis of survey information from a stratified random sample of 883 households which had experienced fires approximately four months prior to being interviewed. Two loss measures are used in the analysis. The first, total indirect losses, includes all indirect costs to which it was possible to assign a monetary value. Such losses are estimated at between $220.3 million and $322.6 million per year, depending on alternative assumptions concerning the total number of residential fires occurring in the United States. The second loss measure, out-of-pocket costs borne directly by households affected by fires, is estimated at between $105 million and $153.8 million per year. All of these cost estimates are subject to considerable statistical sampling error due to the relatively small sample on which they are based. In particular, it is estimated that the sampling error could easily be as much as plus-or-minus 28 percent of the specific loss estimates. In addition, there is some possibility of downward biases in the estimates because of difficulties in locating households which had moved as a result of particularly serious fires and because, particularly in the case of fires involving serious injuries, some costs may not have been incurred by the time of the survey. While such downward biases are possible, however, attempts to check the survey-based loss estimates against independently derived figures from other sources suggest that the estimates described here are in all likelihood at least of the correct order of magnitude."
Fire Administration Report No. 6
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