For each year from 2014 to 2016, an estimated 5,800 medical facility fires were reported to fire departments in the United States. It is estimated that these fires caused five deaths, 150 injuries and $56 million in property loss per year.1
The average number of fatalities per 1,000 medical facility fires reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) was 0.8. During the same time period, the number of injuries per 1,000 fires was 17.6. Additionally, the amount of dollar loss per medical facility fire was $13,360.2 Source: NFIRS 5.0.
|Loss measure||Medical facility fires|
Nearly half of all medical facility fires occurred in nursing homes and, of those, 75% were confined fires. Confined fires are smaller fires that rarely result in death, serious injury or large content losses.3 Nonconfined fires — larger and more serious fires — represented the remaining 25% of nursing home fires. Source: NFIRS 5.0.
This distribution mirrors that of medical facilities as a whole, where 73% of the fires were confined and 27% were nonconfined. Indeed, in most other facility types, the majority of fires, ranging from 56% to 88%, were confined fires.
The notable exception to this trend was in doctors' offices, where the majority of fires, 60%, were nonconfined. It is possible that more of these larger building fires occurred in doctors' offices because there are long periods of time in the evening and early morning hours when there is no one on staff at the location.
Medical facility fires occurred most frequently during the mid-to-late morning as well as the late afternoon and early evening hours, peaking from 4 to 5 p.m. at 8%. These periods of high fire incidence coincide with meal preparation times in hospitals and nursing homes. Source: NFIRS 5.0.
Note: Total does not add up to 100% due to rounding.
The leading causes of all medical facility fires were: cooking (71%), appliances (5%), heating (5%) and electrical malfunction (5%). While cooking was the leading cause of medical facility fires overall, it only accounted for 6% of the nonconfined medical facility fires.
At 21%, "appliances" was the leading cause category of nonconfined fires, followed by electrical malfunction (18%), intentional actions (9%), heating (7%), other unintentional or careless actions (7%), and other heat (7%). Source: NFIRS 5.0.
Note: Percentages are adjusted for those fires with unknown values of cause. Eight percent of medical facility fires had unknown values of cause.
Of the medical facility fires, 81% were limited to the object of origin. Only 5% extended beyond the room of origin. Source: NFIRS 5.0.
81.4% Limited to object of origin
13.9% Limited to room of origin
1.4% Limited to floor of origin
3.1% Limited to building of origin
0.2% Beyond building of origin
Sources: NFIRS and the National Fire Protection Association.
For more information on medical providers, including fire safety inspections and quality of care data, visit Medicare.gov.