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Common Causes of Residential Fires


The Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901 left 10,000 people homeless, 7 residents dead, and destroyed over 2,300 buildings along 146 blocks. It took a decade for the city to rebuild. Thankfully, there hasn't been a "great" fire since, but about 3,000 people in the U.S. still lose their lives in residential fires every year. Since 1999, 250 Jacksonville FL residents were injured, 60 have died, and over 200 firefighters have been injured in residential fires.

No matter what size a residential fire is, or the amount of damage it does, it is always devastating. Knowledge and an informed citizenry are the best ways to prevent household fires. Here's what you need to know.

Residential Fire Statistics

According to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Twenty-seven percent of reported fires occurred in residential structures.
  • Four out of five, or 80% of fire deaths and nearly 75% of all reported injuries were caused by residential fires.
  • From 2013 to 2015, firefighters responded to an estimated average of 354,400 residential fires per year which caused an average of 2,620 civilian deaths per year, and almost $7 billion in direct property damage.
  • Most residential fires and fire casualties result from five causes: cooking, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, heating, smoking in bedrooms, and intentional fire setting.
  • Cooking-related fires are the leading cause of residential fires and injuries. Smoking, particularly in the bedroom, is the leading cause of home fire deaths.

Electrical Fire Statistics

The Electrical Safety Foundation International(ESFI) is exclusively dedicated to promoting electrical safety at home and work. Their most recent research shows that:

  • Residential electrical failures are responsible for over 50,000 fires each year. These fires are responsible for nearly 1500 injuries, cause about 500 deaths, and result in $1.3 billion in property damage.
  • The third leading cause of residential fires is faulty electrical distribution systems.
  • Each year, arcing faults start more than 28,000 residential fires, cause over $700 million in property damage, and injure and kill hundreds of people.
  • Electrical receptacles are involved in 5300 residential fires every year.
  • Sixty-five percent of residential fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke detector.

How to Prevent Electrical Fires 

Installing smoke detectors on every level of your home, inside every bedroom, and outside every sleeping area should be a top priority. Talk to your electrician about whether your electrical panel should be upgraded to support the amount of electricity your home needs. Other tips include:

  • Regular checks on your smoke detectors and arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs).
  • Avoid overloading outlets and circuits.
  • Watch for telltale signs of electrical problems such as unusual sounds from the system or flickering lights.

Schedule Your Yearly Maintenance

The #1 tip from the ESFI is to have your home's electrical system thoroughly inspected by a qualified, licensed electrician who can ensure all electrical work in the home meets the safety provisions of the National Electrical Code.

The older your home, the higher the chance there's some outdated or faulty elements in your electrical system. Getting your home's system upgraded is one way to reduce the risk of a residential fire. To learn more about residential fires or to schedule a home electrical inspection, contact David Gray Electrical Services online or call us at (904) 605-8190.