These topical reports are designed to explore facets of the U.S. fire problem. Each topical report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information.
Risk by age:
- Adults ages 55 or older had a greater relative risk of fire death than the general population.
- Adults ages 85 or older had the highest relative risk of fire death.
- Children ages 4 and younger had a relative risk of fire death that was 50% less than that of the general population, the lowest relative risk for this age group since the mid-1970s; however, these children had an elevated risk of both fire death and injury when compared to older children (ages 5 to 14).
- Adults ages 25 to 64 and 80 or older had a greater relative risk of fire injury than the general population.
Risk by region:
- People living in the Midwest and South had the greatest relative risk of dying in a fire when compared to populations living in other regions of the United States.
Risk by gender:
- Males were 1.7 times more likely to die in fires than females.
Risk by race:
- African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives were at a greater relative risk of dying in a fire than the general population.
Risk is a factor, element or course of action involving uncertainty. It is an exposure to some peril, and it often implies a probability of occurrence, such as investment risk or insurance risk. In terms of the fire problem, risk is the potential for the death of or injury to a person, or damage to or loss of property, as a result of fire.
The risk of death or injury from fire is not the same for everyone. In 2019, fires caused 3,515 deaths and 16,600 injuries in the U.S. These casualties were not equally distributed across the U.S. population, and the resulting risk of death or injury from fire is not uniform — it is more severe for some groups than for others. Much can be learned from understanding why different segments of society are at a heightened risk from the fire problem.
This topical fire report explores fire risk as it applies to fire casualties in the U.S. population and is an update to “Fire Risk in 2017,” Volume 20, Issue 3. The focus is on how fire risk, specifically the risks of death or injury, varies with age and how other demographic factors weigh upon that risk.