For each year from 2012 to 2014, an estimated 5,700 medical facility fires were reported to fire departments in the United States. Nearly a fifth of those (1,100 fires) were in hospitals. It is estimated that these fires caused fewer than five deaths, 25 injuries and $5 million in property loss per year.
The average number of fatalities per 1,000 hospital fires was lower than the same measure for all other medical facility fires, according to statistics from the National Fire Incident Reporting System. In addition, the number of injuries was also lower than that of other medical facilities.
The majority of hospital fires were fires that were confined to cooking pots (60 percent). Confined fires are smaller fires that rarely result in death, serious injury or large content losses. Fires in trash bins, incinerators or compactors composed 10 percent of hospital fires, while 3 percent were fuel burner or chimney fires.
Leading confined fire types:
- Cooking vessel: 60.4 percent
- Trash, incinerator or compactor: 9.8 percent
- Fuel burner or chimney: 2.9 percent
Non-confined fires, generally larger structure fires, made up 27 percent of hospital fires.
Hospital fires occurred most frequently from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., accounting for 60 percent of the fires. The fires peaked between the hour of noon and 1 p.m. This period of high fire incidence coincides with lunchtime meal preparations, as cooking is the leading cause of hospital fires.
The leading causes of all hospital fires were:
- Cooking (68 percent)
- Electrical malfunction (6 percent)
- Heating (5 percent)
While cooking was the leading reported cause of hospital fires overall, it only accounted for 6 percent of all non-confined hospital fires. Non-confined fires are larger, more serious fires.
The leading causes of non-confined hospital fires were:
- Electrical malfunction (22 percent)
- Appliances (13 percent)
- Intentional actions (12 percent)
- Other equipment (11 percent)
Eighty-four percent of all hospital fires were limited to the object of origin. Only 3 percent extended beyond the room of origin.
Source: USFA, NFIRS 5.0, National Fire Protection Association
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