The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released findings from a report on U.S. fire loss for 2007. According to this overview of the U.S. fire experience, fires killed one person every two and a half hours last year.

Fire departments responded to 1.6 million fires, the lowest total since 2004. Although the number of fires declined, fire deaths and injuries increased. Home fire deaths accounted for more than eight in 10 of all fire deaths, yet even with an 11 percent increase from the previous year, the number of home fire deaths was the third lowest since 1977. In 2007, fires caused an estimated $14 billion in property damage, a nearly 30 percent increase from the previous year.

Also, according to the report, fire departments tended to 1,557,500 fires, a 5.2 percent decrease from the year before. Of those fires, 530,500 occurred in structures, an increase of 1.2 percent. From these statistics, NFPA concluded that, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the nation every 20 seconds. A fire occurs in a structure at a rate of one every 59 seconds, and in particular, a residential fire occurs every 76 seconds.

In total, NFPA estimates 3,430 civilian fire deaths occurred in 2007, an increase of 5.7 percent, and about 84 percent of all fire deaths (2,865) occurred in the home, an increase of 11 percent. NFPA also reported that 17,675 civilian fire injuries occurred, an increase of 7.8 percent. Nationwide, there was a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes.

In the report, NFPA estimates that $14.6 billion in property damage occurred as a result of fire in 2007, a significant increase of 29.5 percent from the previous year. This total figure includes the California fire storm of 2007 with an estimated property damage of $1.8 billion. Excluding the California fire storm, total property loss still increased a significant 13.5 percent.

These statistics show an overall increase in fire incidents, some of which were caused by faulty electrical wiring or other electrical incidents. As an electrical contractor, your work can contribute to the safety or harm of others. Thorough work and following codes and standards will help decrease the number of fires and fire-related deaths, injuries and losses in the future.