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November 17, 2009




Press Release - USFA Releases University Housing Fires topical Report

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) has issued a special report examining the causes and characteristics of fires in college and university residential buildings that include dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses.  The report, University Housing Fires, was developed by the National Fire Data Center and is a part of the USFA’s Topical Report Series.  An estimated average of 3,800 fires occurs each year in university dwellings. Annually, these fires are also responsible for 5 deaths, 50 civilian injuries, and $26 million in property loss. This report is based on 2005 to 2007 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

“The safety of this nation’s students is important to all fire departments facing the challenges presented by today’s higher education institutions,” said Kelvin J. Cochran, United States Fire Administrator.  “The simple act of cooking by students continues to present dangers when safety is taken for granted.  It is our desire through this report, and others like it, to continue our support of fire safety efforts by all fire departments working closely with faculty to ensure a safe and fire free educational environment.”

According to the report, 94 percent of university housing fires occur in dormitories and dormitory-type residences, and 6 percent occur in fraternity and sorority houses.  University housing fires peak in September and October and are most frequent in the evening hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. when students prepare snacks or cook meals.  Cooking is the leading cause of university housing fires with 83 percent of all university housing fires caused by cooking.  Confined cooking fires, those confined to the container, account for 77 percent of all university housing fires.

The short topical reports are designed to explore facets of the U.S. 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.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at:  http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/statistics/reports/index.shtm


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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U.S. Fire Administration · U.S. Department of Homeland Security · Emmitsburg, MD 21727 · (301) 447-1000