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Topical Fire Report Series December 2021 | Volume 21, Issue 9

Nonresidential Building Fires (2017‑2019)

Nonresidential fires have a significant economic impact on a community as they may lead to lost jobs and closed businesses. In addition, because many nonresidential buildings are places where many people gather, they hold the greatest potential for a mass casualty incident to occur.

This report describes the characteristics of all nonresidential building fires reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System for 2017‑2019.

Download the full 21-page report

At a Glance

From 2017 to 2019, an estimated average of
nonresidential building fires
were reported to U.S. fire departments each year.

These fires caused an estimated annual average of:

90 deaths


1,125 injuries


$2.8 billion

in property loss

20% next to a building that is on fire

National estimates for 2017 to 2019 show that nonresidential buildings accounted for 20% of the total dollar loss from all fires.

Outside and special properties
accounted for the most nonresidential building fires (25%).

clock face with 2 to 7 emphasized

Nonresidential building fires occurred most frequently from 2 to 7 p.m.

steaming pan

Cooking was the leading cause of all nonresidential building fires (30%).

car inside a garage that is on fire

Nonconfined nonresidential building fires most often started in vehicle storage areas (8%).


In 58% of nonconfined nonresidential building fires, the fire extended beyond the room of origin.