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Nonresidential Building Fire Dollar-Loss Causes (2012‑2021)

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National estimates

The 2021 national estimates for the leading causes of nonresidential building fire dollar loss show that there were:

  • $671,300,000 loss from other equipment fires.
  • $542,100,000 loss from other unintentional, careless fires.
  • $532,400,000 loss from exposure fires.
  • $501,800,000 loss from electrical malfunction fires

Overall trends

Overall trends in the leading causes of fire dollar loss for the 10-year period of 2012 to 2021 show the following:

  • Other unintentional, careless fires as the leading cause of nonresidential building fire dollar loss in 9 years out of the 10-year period.
  • A 132% increase in other equipment fire dollar loss. A $170,000,000 Earlimart, California, fire reported in a manufacturing property contributed to the 2021 dollar-loss peak.
  • A 5% increase in nonresidential other unintentionally or carelessly set fire dollar loss.
  • A 261% increase in exposure fire dollar loss.
    A $67,800,000 reported Hoboken, New Jersey, manufacturing fire contributed to the 2021 dollar-loss peak.
  • A 26% increase in nonresidential electrical malfunction fire dollar loss.*
  • A $26,465,000 San Francisco, California, building supply warehouse fire with several exposures and a $17,000,000 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, fire reported in a mercantile or business property contributed to the increase in intentional fire dollar loss in 2020.

*The overall constant dollar-loss trends take inflation into account by adjusting each year's dollar loss to its equivalent 2021 value.

Leading causes of nonresidential building fire dollar-loss (2012-2021)

(in $millions)
Other equipment335.6178.6158.2265.2254.3252.1378.3292.7230.5671.3
Other unintentional, careless392.6655.7441.9607.0609.2518.9546.0458.9564.5542.1
Electrical malfunction371.3434.1337.4445.5332.9477.3403.0435.3445.9501.8
Cause under investigation164.3161.2233.3193.7334.0218.2122.7250.4173.2271.1
Equipment malfunction320.6237.8226.0229.2175.4256.7256.4272.8270.3212.2
Other Heat213.3171.1260.2191.8210.6186.3168.8186.2158.5159.8