Each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes a report detailing fire loss in the U.S. during the previous calendar year. The association gathers data through a survey sent to public fire departments across the country, and this year’s response rate was lower than usual, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Findings

  • Fire departments responded to 1,291,500 fires in 2019
  • A fire occurred in a structure at the rate of one every 65 seconds
  • 65% of all fire deaths resulted from fires in one- or two-family homes
  • With a minor increase from the previous year, fires in 2019 resulted in 3,700 civilian deaths and 16,000 civilian injuries
  • Fires last year caused $14.8 billion in property damage, down from $26.5 billion in 2018, a figure that included $12 billion in damage from the major wildfires in Northern California
  • Fire departments protecting populations under 2,500 reported the highest rate of fires

Then and Now

This year’s report compares the annual survey’s findings to those of 1980. The good news is that in most of the major categories of incident types, the number of fires were 48-66% lower than 40 years ago. Property loss, adjusted for inflation, was 24% lower than in 1980, and structure fire deaths were 43% lower in one- or two-family homes and 63% lower in apartments.

Less encouraging, however, are the figures representing deaths and injuries associated with reported fires. The death rate per 1,000 fires for overall home fires was 15% higher in 2019 than four decades prior, and the comparable civilian injury rate was 34% higher.

“Overall, it seems that most of the reduction in reported fires and fire losses occurred more than a decade ago,” the report states. “That progress was impressive. However, more must be done, particularly regarding home fires.”

Read the NFPA’s full 2019 report here.

News and Research

The NFPA’s research affiliate, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, is committed to supporting and advancing the industry of fire protection through robust data collection and analysis. Other recent reports include the following:

Firefighter Fatalities in the United States

Audible Alarm Signal Waking Effectiveness: Literature Review

Structure Fires in Schools

Obstruction and Early Suppression Fast Response Sprinklers

WUI-NITY: A Platform for the Simulation of Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Evacuation