US Fire Administration Releases Report on Heating Fires in Residential Buildings

Heating is the Second Leading Cause of Home Fires; Prepare Now for a Fire-Safe Heating Season

Fall begins this Saturday, and with it comes cooler temperatures and the resulting seasonal increase in the number of home heating fires. To help Americans understand the nature of the heating fire problem, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) today issued a special report: Heating Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010). Developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center, the report is based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

·         Heating Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010) (PDF, 424 Kb)

According to the report:

  • An estimated average of 50,100 heating fires in residential buildings occurred in the United States each year and resulted in an annual average of approximately 150 deaths, 575 injuries, and $326 million in property loss.
  • Heating was the second leading cause of all residential building fires following cooking.
  • Residential building heating fires peaked in the early evening hours between 5 and 9 p.m. with the highest peak between 6 and 8 p.m. This 4-hour period accounted for 30 percent of all residential building heating fires.
  • Residential building heating fires peaked in January (21 percent) and declined to the lowest point during the summer months from June to August.
  • Confined fires, those fires confined to chimneys, flues, or fuel burners, accounted for 87 percent of residential building heating fires.
  • Thirty percent of the nonconfined residential building heating fires occurred because the heat source was too close to combustibles.

Home heating fires are preventable! As heating season gets underway in many parts of the country, the USFA would like to remind everyone of the following safety tips:

  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Plug space heaters directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms inside your home to provide early warning of CO.
  • More heating fire safety tips »

Heating Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010) is part of the Topical Fire Report Series. Topical reports explore facets of the United States fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. Each topical report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information. Also included are recent examples of fire incidents that demonstrate some of the issues addressed in the report or that put the report topic in context.

For further information regarding other topical reports or fire prevention, visit the USFA website at