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Topical Fire Report Series December 2021 | Volume 21, Issue 10

Heating Fires in Residential Buildings (2017‑2019)

This report describes the characteristics of all heating fires in residential buildings reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System for 2017‑2019. Although trending downward since the early 1980's, heating fires remained the second leading cause of residential building fires.

Download the full 15-page report

At a Glance

From 2017 to 2019, an estimated average of
heating fires in residential buildings
were reported to U.S. fire departments each year.

These fires caused an estimated annual average of:

165 deaths


600 injuries


$367 million

in property loss

large cooking pot next to a small radiator

Heating was the second leading cause of all residential building fires, following cooking.

clock highlighting the hours of 6 to 8 p.m.

Residential building heating fires peaked in the early evening hours from 5 to 9 p.m., with the highest peak from 6 to 8 p.m.

January calendar

Residential building heating fire incidence peaked in January at 20% and declined to the lowest point during the months of June, July and August.

house with chimney on fire and 77% overlaid

Confined fires, specifically those fires confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners, accounted for 77% of residential building heating fires.

object too close to radiator with 27% overlaid

The heat source was too close to combustibles in 27% of the nonconfined residential building heating fires.

smoke alarm

Smoke alarms were present in 56% of nonconfined heating fires in occupied residential buildings.