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Data Snapshot: Nursing Home Fires (2012‑2014)

For each year from 2012 to 2014, an estimated 5,700 medical facility fires were reported to fire departments in the United States. Nearly half of those, 2,700 fires, were in nursing homes. It is estimated that these fires caused fewer than 5 deaths, 125 injuries and $13 million in property loss per year. 1

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Loss measures for nursing homes and all other medical facility fires
(3-year average, 2012‑2014)

The average number of fatalities per 1,000 nursing home fires was only slightly lower than the same measure for all other medical facility fires. The number of injuries, however, was more than double that of other medical facilities. 2

Loss measureNursing home firesAll other medical facility fires
Fatalities/1,000 fires0.50.6
Injuries/1,000 fires27.911.2
Dollar loss/fire$6,080$14,170

Nursing home fires by incident type (2012‑2014)

The majority of nursing home fires are fires that are confined to cooking pots (66%). Confined fires are smaller fires that rarely result in death, serious injury or large content losses. 3 Fires in trash bins, incinerators or compactors composed 5% of confined fires, while fuel burner or chimney fires accounted for 3%.

Nonconfined fires, generally larger structure fires, made up 26% of nursing home fires.

Source: NFIRS 5.0

Leading confined fires types

Cooking vessel
Trash, incinerator or compactor
Fuel burner or chimney

Nursing home fires by time of alarm (2012‑2014)

Nursing home fires occurred most frequently during the morning as well as the late afternoon and early evening hours. The fires peaked between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. These periods of high fire incidence coincide with morning and evening meal preparations.

Source: NFIRS 5.0

Table may not total 100% due to rounding.

Table may not total 100% due to rounding.

Causes of nursing home fires (2012‑2014)

The leading causes of all nursing home fires were:

Electrical malfunction
Source: NFIRS 5.0.

Note: Unknown causes are apportioned

While cooking was the leading reported cause of nursing home fires overall, it only accounted for 9% of all nonconfined nursing home fires. Nonconfined fires are larger, more serious fires.

The leading causes of nonconfined fires were:

Electrical malfunction

Extent of fire spread in nursing home fires (2012‑2014)

83% of all nursing home fires were limited to the object of origin. Only 3% extended beyond the room of origin.

Source: NFIRS 5.0
Limited to object of origin
Limited to room of origin
Limited to building of origin
Limited to floor of origin
Beyond building of origin
Note: Total percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Sources: NFIRS 5.0 and the National Fire Protection Association.
  1. Medical facilities are defined by Property Use codes 311-343. Nursing homes are defined by Property Use code 311. Fires are defined as a subset of nonresidential building fires in NFIRS by using Incident Types 111-123 (excluding Incident Type 112). For Incident Types 113-118, the structure type is 1, 2 or null, and for Incident Types 111 and 120-123, the structure type is 1 or 2. Aid Types 3 (mutual aid given) and 4 (automatic aid given) were excluded to avoid double counting of incidents. Estimates of fires are rounded to the nearest 100, deaths to the nearest five, injuries to the nearest 25, and dollar loss to the nearest million dollars.
  2. The average loss measures computed from the NFIRS data alone in the table differ from the average loss measures computed from national estimates. Average loss for fatalities and injuries is computed per 1,000 fires. Average dollar loss is computed per fire and rounded to the nearest $10. The 2012 and 2013 dollar-loss values were adjusted to 2014 dollars.
  3. In NFIRS, confined fires are defined by Incident Types 113 to 118.

For more information on nursing homes, including fire safety inspections and quality of care data, please visit: