2004•2005 National Sample Survey of Unreported Residential Fires

This report provides information from the third national telephone probability sample survey of unreported (and non-fire department-attended) residential fires sponsored by the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (images).

The objective, is, to develop an understanding of the causes of residential fires, the ignition sources, what objects ignited first and the behavioral factors associated with the fires. The surveys also examined how people became aware of the fires, including the role played by smoke alarms and how fires were extinguished.

The current survey, conducted between June 2004 and September 2005, contained data from 916 households that reported to the telephone interviewers that they had experienced at least one fire during the previous 90 days. Households were selected from across the nation as a probability sample using random digit dialing. The sample was stratified by region of the country and demographic composition of the population. Fires were defined in a manner similar to the two previous surveys as

“… any incident large or small that you have had in or around your home…that resulted in unwanted flames or smoke, and could have caused damage to life or property if left unchecked. “

The first task of the survey, to estimate the number of unreported fires from information reported by survey respondents, required correcting for the possibility that respondents may have forgotten some fire incidents that occurred during the previous 90 days.

In the present survey, it was estimated that there were 7.4 million fires in the U. S. (annualized rate for 2004-2005) and a rate of 6.6 residential structure fires per year per 100 households. This was a decrease of 68.7 percent in the number of residential structure fires and a decrease of 76.8 percent in the household fire rate. These decreases were much greater than the 43 percent decrease in the number of residential structure fires that were reported by fire departments over the same period.

 Stay tuned for more of this survey.

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