Heating equipment is a leading cause of residential fires and fire deaths, according to a recent study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The report, which looked at fires that occurred in one-family homes, two-family homes, apartments and other multi-family homes from 2011-2015, found that heating equipment was the second-leading cause of these fires, behind cooking equipment.
During the five-year period studied, an average of 54,030 residential fires resulted in 1,470 injuries including burns and smoke inhalation, and 480 civilian deaths annually. Fifteen percent of those fires were caused by heating sources. Here are the report’s findings:
Space Heater, Fireplace and Central Heating Fires
Space heaters are the most common source of home fires, injuries and deaths caused by heating equipment. They account for two of every five of these fires, 78 percent of injuries and 85 percent of fire deaths.
Fireplace and chimney fires account for 31 percent of these fires, 6 percent of injuries and 7 percent of deaths. About 11 percent of home heating equipment fires are caused by central heating systems, while water heaters are the origin go 10 percent if these fires.
“Failure to clean” was the leading cause of ignition (28 percent) of these fires followed by mechanical failure or malfunction, 16 percent; “heat source to close to combustibles,” 15 percent; electrical failure or malfunction, 8 percent; and unintended equipment, 7 percent.
Wood and other solid fuel sources accounted for 41 percent of home heating fires, 10 percent of injuries and 23 percent of fatalities. Heating equipment powered by electricity was responsible for 34 percent of fires, 57 percent of injuries and 54 percent of deaths. Gas-fueled equipment was the source of 17 percent of fires, 27 percent of injuries and 15 percent of fatalities.
Season and Time of Day are Fire Factors
The time of day and season of the year both are both factors in residential fires caused by heating equipment. About 48 percent of these fires and 58 percent of resulting deaths occur during December, January and February. Common times include the evening hours between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.