Misperception of Fire Risk
- A nationwide survey conducted in 2008 by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers
(SFPE)* found that “79 percent of Americans feel safer from fires at home than in a
public building, with an additional nine percent feeling equally safe in both locations."
- A 2005 SFPE survey had found that 87 percent of Americans believed they were safer from fires at home than in a public building.
- The same 2008 survey found that 44 percent of American think about the dangers of
fire once or twice a year-or less.
- A SFPE Survey in February 2011, found “70% of Americans feel safer from fire
at home than in a commercial high-rise building, and another 24% feel no difference
in their safety.”
- The 2011 survey results are similar to the results from a 2007 survey, which indicated
65% of American felt safer at home and another 24% felt no difference.
- In a SFPE survey reported August 2009, 45% of respondents correctly identified fire
as "the event most likely to cause harm to them or their family" BUT only 18% of
respondents in the same survey said they worry about the dangers of fire more than
once a year.
- While “most” respondents (45%) correctly identified fire, the remaining 55% chose a
different event: lightening strikes (18%), hurricanes (15%), earthquakes (12%), or
- Far more fires, and fire-related deaths and injuries, happen in homes than in
non-residential buildings. In 2009 there were 356,200 residential fires resulting in
2,480 death and 12,600 injuries, compared to 89,200 fires in non-residential buildings
resulting in 90 deaths and 1,500 injuries. High-rise building fires make up a small
fraction of non-residential building fires (USFA data).
- On average in the United States in 2010, someone died in a fire every 169 minutes,
and someone was injured every 30 minutes. About 85% of all U.S. fire deaths in 2009
occurred in homes (Karter 2011 – Fire Loss in the United States)
- The risk of dying in a fire is actually 149 times more likely than dying in a flood; 126
times more likely than dying in an earthquake; and 39 times more likely than dying in
a storm. National Safety Council, Injury Facts, 2011
*“The survey, commissioned by SFPE and conducted in January 2008 by Synovate, polled more than 1,000 American adults. The findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.” See SFPE News Releases for more information about these surveys.
See more Research Studies