Older Adult Fire Death Rates and Relative Risk (2001-2010)
See also: Overall Trends | Child Fire Death Trends

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On a per capita basis, fire death rates are declining, partially due to an increase in the U.S. population and an overall decline in the numbers of reported fires and fire deaths. In the case of fire deaths, fire death rates are measured by deaths per million population. Trends in fire death rates are computed to show how the rates have changed over time by smoothing fluctuations or variations in the data from year-to-year.

To account for population differences, per capita rates are used. Per capita rates use a common population size, which then permits comparisons between different groups.1 Perhaps the most useful way to assess fire casualties across groups is to determine the relative risk of dying or being injured. Relative risk compares the per capita rate for a particular group (e.g., older adults) to the overall per capita rate (i.e., the general population). The result is a measure of how likely a group is to be affected. For the general population, the relative risk is set at 1.

Overall, the trend in the fire death rate per million population for older adults ages 65 and older decreased 17 percent from 2001-2010. Although the trend in fire death rates has decreased for the older adult population, older adults face the greatest relative risk of dying in a fire. In 2010, the relative risk of dying in a fire for older adults was 2.7 times higher than that of the population as a whole.

1 Per capita rates are determined by the number of deaths or injuries occurring to a specific population group divided by the total population for that group. This ratio is then multiplied by a common population size. For the purposes of this analysis, per capita rates for fire deaths are measured per 1 million persons. For example, the 2010 per capita fire death rate for the total older adult (ages 65 and over) population is computed from the total number of older adult fire deaths (1,200) divided by the total older adult population (40,477,304) multiplied by 1,000,000 persons. This rate is equivalent to 29.6 deaths per 1 million population.

Fire Death Rates per Million Population for Older Adults Ages 65+ (2001-2010)

Year Number of Fire Deaths Age 65+ Population Fire Death Rate (per million population) Relative Risk
2001 1,252 35,290,291 35.5 2.5
2002 1,195 35,522,207 33.6 2.5
2003 1,308 35,863,529 36.5 2.6
2004 1,265 36,203,319 34.9 2.6
2005 1,277 36,649,798 34.8 2.6
2006 1,241 37,164,107 33.4 2.5
2007 1,296 37,825,711 34.3 2.6
2008 1,254 38,777,621 32.3 2.7
2009 1,130 39,623,175 28.5 2.6
2010 1,200 40,477,304 29.6 2.7
10-Year Trend (%)     -16.8%  

Notes: The computation of the trend is based on the simple linear regression Method of Least Squares. The numbers of fire deaths are adjusted for those deaths where age was not reported. The counts of fire deaths for the individual age categories (i.e., 65-74, 75-84, 85+) may not sum to the total per year for the 65+ age category due to rounding.

Sources: 1) National Center for Health Statistics. 2001-2010 Mortality Data Files, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. 2) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2001-2009 population estimates from Table 1. Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010 (US-EST00INT-01). Release date: September 2011. 3) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2010 population estimates from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Five-Year Age Groups for the United States: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 (NC-EST2011-01). Release date: May 2012.

The trend in the fire death rate per million population for older adults ages 65 to 74 decreased 14 percent over the 10-year period. Older adults in this age group had 1.9 times (i.e., 90 percent) greater risk of dying in a fire than the general population in 2010. The relative risk rose even higher for the oldest segment of the population (i.e., ages 85 and over) to 4.6.

Fire Death Rates per Million Population for Older Adults Ages 65-74 (2001-2010)

Year Number of Fire Deaths Age 65-74 Population Fire Death Rate (per million population) Relative Risk
2001 472 18,384,179 25.7 1.8
2002 456 18,388,535 24.8 1.8
2003 492 18,500,915 26.6 1.9
2004 429 18,667,533 23.0 1.7
2005 460 18,881,697 24.4 1.8
2006 471 19,203,027 24.5 1.9
2007 491 19,698,727 24.9 1.9
2008 507 20,505,679 24.7 2.1
2009 451 21,233,099 21.2 1.9
2010 465 21,855,676 21.3 1.9
10-Year Trend (%)     -14.3%  

Notes: The computation of the trend is based on the simple linear regression Method of Least Squares. The numbers of fire deaths are adjusted for those deaths where age was not reported.

Sources: 1) National Center for Health Statistics. 2001-2010 Mortality Data Files, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. 2) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2001-2009 population estimates from Table 1. Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010 (US-EST00INT-01). Release date: September 2011. 3) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2010 population estimates from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Five-Year Age Groups for the United States: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 (NC-EST2011-01). Release date: May 2012.

For older adults ages 75 to 84, the fire death rate trend decreased 14 percent over the 10-year period. In 2010, individuals in this age group were 3.1 times more likely to die in a fire than the general population.

Fire Death Rates per Million Population for Older Adults Ages 75-84 (2001-2010)

Year Number of Fire Deaths Age 75-84 Population Fire Death Rate (per million population) Relative Risk
2001 494 12,593,618 39.2 2.8
2002 489 12,764,864 38.3 2.8
2003 523 12,896,438 40.6 2.9
2004 529 12,989,903 40.7 3.0
2005 533 13,074,802 40.8 3.0
2006 506 13,095,151 38.6 2.9
2007 499 13,087,439 38.1 2.9
2008 469 13,076,102 35.9 3.0
2009 437 13,022,775 33.6 3.0
2010 452 13,077,323 34.6 3.1
10-Year Trend (%)     -14.4%  

Notes: The computation of the trend is based on the simple linear regression Method of Least Squares. The numbers of fire deaths are adjusted for those deaths where age was not reported.

Sources: 1) National Center for Health Statistics. 2001-2010 Mortality Data Files, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. 2) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2001-2009 population estimates from Table 1. Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010 (US-EST00INT-01). Release date: September 2011. 3) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2010 population estimates from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Five-Year Age Groups for the United States: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 (NC-EST2011-01). Release date: May 2012.

From 2001 to 2010, the largest decrease in the fire death rate trends for older adults occurred in the group of individuals ages 85 and over. The trend in the fire death rate per million population for this group declined 26 percent over the 10-year period. Older adults of this age group, however, have the highest fire death rates among the general population as a whole and, as a result, are at the highest risk of dying in a fire. In 2010, individuals ages 85 or older were 4.6 times more likely to die in a fire than the general population, while those adults ages 65 to 74 were only 1.9 times more likely to suffer fire-related deaths.

Fire Death Rates per Million Population for Older Adults Ages 85+ (2001-2010)

Year Number of Fire Deaths Age 85+ Population Fire Death Rate (per million population) Relative Risk
2001 286 4,312,494 66.3 4.7
2002 250 4,368,808 57.2 4.2
2003 293 4,466,176 65.6 4.6
2004 307 4,545,883 67.5 5.0
2005 284 4,693,299 60.5 4.5
2006 264 4,865,929 54.3 4.1
2007 306 5,039,545 60.7 4.6
2008 279 5,195,840 53.7 4.5
2009 241 5,367,301 44.9 4.1
2010 282 5,544,305 50.9 4.6
10-Year Trend (%) -25.5%  

Notes: The computation of the trend is based on the simple linear regression Method of Least Squares. The numbers of fire deaths are adjusted for those deaths where age was not reported.

Sources: 1) National Center for Health Statistics. 2001-2010 Mortality Data Files, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. 2) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2001-2009 population estimates from Table 1. Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010 (US-EST00INT-01). Release date: September 2011. 3) U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2010 population estimates from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Five-Year Age Groups for the United States: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 (NC-EST2011-01). Release date: May 2012.


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