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Leading Causes of Residential Building Fires

With little or no warning, a fire can sweep through an apartment building, leaving people homeless and causing injuries or death. The sad thing is, many, if not all, apartment fires are preventable, if only residents and building owners take some simple preventative measures. What are the leading causes of apartment fires, and how can they be prevented? The following information can provide answers to these questions.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, apartment buildings were the scene of approximately 95,000 fires in 2015. These fires caused 405 civilian deaths and 3,025 civilian injuries. This sounds like a high number, but since 1980 the frequency of apartment fires in the U.S. has been slowly declining. A separate study conducted by the U.S. Fire Administration showed that these were the leading causes of residential building fires in 2014:

Cooking

50.0%

Heating

12.5%

Electrical malfunction

6.3%

Unintentional, careless

5.8%

Open flame

4.4%

Appliances

4.2%

Intentional

4.2%

Other heat

3.2%

Exposure

2.0%

Smoking

2.0%

Natural

1.6%

Cause under investigation

1.2%

Other equipment

1.2%

Equipment malfunction

0.9%

Playing with heat source

0.4%

The majority of fires result from carelessness on the part of residents, such as unattended cooking, smoking, use of candles, or playing with fire. However, note that 25.1 percent of residential building fires were equipment-related, involving furnaces, heating equipment, appliances and electrical malfunction. In the latter instances, negligence on the part of equipment manufacturers, equipment service companies and building owners and managers is undoubtedly at fault

One important conclusion to be drawn from these figures is that vigilance on the part of building owners, manufacturers, service companies and individual building residents is essential in preventing fires.

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