Posted on 06/09/2019 in Furniture & Textiles Fire Safety 2019
Fires starting in furniture cause 14% of fire deaths

A study of fire statistics in Massachusetts 2003-2016 shows that fires involving furniture caused 14% of all residential fire deaths. Data was assessed from 158 862 residential fires reported as causing human or monetary damage. Fires with no information on fire cause and intentional fires were excluded, leaving 34 081 fires analysed. Of these, 2% were identified as starting in upholstered furniture, but these caused 14% of fire deaths. Fires starting in upholstered furniture had a higher risk of fire death than those starting in other items. This does not take into account fires starting in other items, but spreading via furniture. The authors however choose to emphasise in the study conclusions the higher casualty risk from fires started in furniture by smoking materials (38 such casualties, that is a low number on which to base conclusions) compared to furniture fires started by open flame sources. It is noted that casualties from fires started by smoking materials did not decrease after the 2008 Massachusetts Fire Safe Cigarette law. No attempt is made to analyse whether the higher casualties from fires started by smoking materials might be related to socio-economic factors (income, housing quality, alcohol consumption …) which may be correlated to smoking.

“Health Toll From Open Flame and Cigarette-Started Fires on Flame-Retardant Furniture in Massachusetts, 2003–2016”, K. Rodgers et al., Research and Practice 2019 Study supported by Healthy Babies Bright Futures and by Silent Spring Institute.

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