Holiday Fire Statistics

Festive celebrations, flickering lights and winter greens are hallmarks of the holiday season, but they also present fire risks that can quickly turn this festive time of year into a devastating one. NFPA’s Project Holiday campaign works to educate the public about potential fire risks during the holidays, offering tip sheets, videos, and other resources to help everyone safely enjoy the season.

Christmas trees
  • Between 2010-2014, U.S. fire dm3ig7t1iq8ybxcdfvoo6_beautiful_christmas_tree-1epartments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 34 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.
  • Some type of electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in one-third (35%) of home Christmas tree fires.
  • Twenty-three percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
  • Two of every five (38%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
Holiday decorations
  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2009-2013. These fires caused an annual average of one civilian fire death, 41 civilian fire injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage.
  • Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
  • The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in nearly half (45%) of the fires.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. One out of six (17%) started in the living room, family room or den.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December.
Candles
  • Candles started 38% of home decoration structure fires.
  • Half (51%) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (35%) in January to November.
  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.
Holiday cooking
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • Cooking equipment was involved in 18% of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.
Fireworks
  • Ten percent of fireworks fires occur during the period from December 30 through January 3, with the peak on New Year’s Day.
(Source: NFPA’s “Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees” report, November 2016)
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