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Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires

Report: NFPA's "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires"
Author: Marty Ahrens
Issued: January 2019


Report highlights

  • Smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire, giving people additional escape time. In 2012-2016, smoke alarms were present in three-quarters (74%) and sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.

  • Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no smoke alarms that were working (17%).

  • The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths per 1,000 fires), either because no smoke alarm was present or an alarm was present but did not operate), as it was in homes with working smoke alarms (5.7 per 1,000 fires).

  • In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than two of every five (43%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.

  • Dead batteries caused one-quarter (25%) of the smoke alarm failures.


Reported home structure fires and fire deaths by smoke alarm performance

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