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How serious is fire in the home?

[Chart] "The United States continues to have one of the most severe fire problems in the world". The public does not appreciate the magnitude of the fire problem in the home nor the importance of doing its share to reduce fires in the home. The vast majority of our civilian deaths (71%) and injuries (68%) continue to occur in residences."

U.S. property losses from all natural disasters combined (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.) average a fraction of the losses from fire. Death rates from fire are 20 times as high. Each year, on average there are:

  • 5,300 Deaths
  • 29,000 Injuries
  • $9,400,000,000 Property Loss
  • 2,400,000 "Reported" Fires
  • 13,000,000 "Unreported" fires (estimate)

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Are all residential fires reported?

"An enormous amount of fires are not reported at all. Most are small fires in the home ... and are extinguished by the occupant."

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Won't the fire department get there in time?

They do their best, but fire spreads with amazing speed. You only have 2 to 3 minutes to extinguish a fire before it grows out of control! It takes time to reach 911 and dispatch the fire department. Distance, traffic, rain, snow and ice are all factors which can slow the arrival of help. Also, 80% of all fireman are volunteers, each of whom must first be contacted and then have to travel from their respective locations (home, work, etc.) to the scene of the fire. It takes time.
  • 3 to 4 minutes - a fire can totally involve a house
  • 5 to 10 minutes - a mobile home can burn to the ground
  • 4 to 20 minutes - range of 911 response times

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What are the leading causes of fire in the home?

21% Heating
19% Cooking
13% Arson (includes fires started by children)
18% Unknown
29% Other (appliances, electrical, et.)

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In what areas of the home do fires start?

23.7% Cooking Area (includes grilling areas)
12.2% Sleeping Area
8.1% Lounge Area
4.4% Laundry Room
9.7% Chimney
4.9% Unknown

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Isn't a smoke detector enough?

Smoke detectors are invaluable, but they are a warning, not a solution. According to the "Fire in the United States", "Smoke detectors are thought to account for a significant decrease in reported fires and fire deaths since the mid 1970's ... the detectors allow early detection and extinguishment, so that fires are not reported".

Unfortunately, "In only 35% of all residential fires, where smoke detector performance was reported, did a detector operate in the fire ... this is somewhat disturbing since there is widespread belief that an operating detector will save lives."

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What types of fires are found in the home and what is the best way to extinguish them?

Most fires in the home are ordinary combustible, Class A fires. Many others which may begin as an grease fire (B), or electrical short (C), quickly spread to walls, cabinets and other combustibles which then spread as a far more serious Class A fire.

Class Agent Type Fire
A Water Ordinary Combustibles: wood, paper, cloth, clothes, etc.
B Chemical Flammable Liquids: oil, grease, gasoline
C Chemical Electrical equipment

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Is a fire extinguisher enough?

Having a fire extinguisher is important, but they do have serious limitations. A typical fire extinguisher found in the home is a 10 lb. rated ABC extinguisher filled with a dry chemical, usually sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Liquid flammables (B), and electrical (C). fires should be extinguished with dry chemicals and never with water.

Unfortunately, the 10 lb. rating usually applies only to BC fires and drops to a mere 1 lb. rating when the extinguisher is used for Class A fires. In other words, the equivalent of about 1 glass of water. Hardly enough to extinguish even the smallest fire.

Ordinary combustibles (Class A fires) are best extinguished with water - lots of water. Water can soak down a mattress, a wall, woodwork, and even clothing in way that dry chemical agents simply can not do. The limitations of a small dry chemical extinguisher include:

  • Class - A 10 lb. rated BC extinguisher generally has only a 1 lb. Class A rating.
  • Age - Fire extinguishers have a limited life and expire or weaken within a few years at best.
  • Condition - Directions recommend weekly or monthly checks to verify operation.
  • Location - May be difficult to locate in a crisis.
  • Duration - Most completely discharge in 6 to 12 seconds. Insufficient for many fires.
  • Volume - Will not soak mattress, furniture and other ordinary combustibles below the surface.
  • Flashback - May only deprive fire of oxygen momentarily and let the fire re-ignite.
  • Escape - Will not wet down clothing, doors, walls for escape.

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How can I protect my home and family?

The NFPA says: "Many fires are small at origin and may be extinguished by the use of fire extinguishers or small hose streams. Portable fire extinguishing equipment can represent an important segment of a home fire protection program. If a fire starts in your home:
  • Get people out of the house
  • Call the fire department
  • Use a fire extinguisher or hose from the residential fire cabinet

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What does The Home Fireman provide?

  • Everything the NFPA 10R recommends.
  • The Home Fireman is equipped to extinguish all types of residential fires (A, B & C).
  • The Home Fireman comes with a 10 lb. rated BC fire extinguisher (B for oil & grease and C for electrical) and with a special water hose to extinguish class A type fires (wood, carpet, etc.).
  • The unit connects to a standard residential water line.
  • The hose and the fire extinguisher are enclosed in a single, designer cabinet ready for instant accessibility and immediate use.

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Sources: The quotations and data provided above have come from:

  1. FIRE in the United States, ninth edition, produced by: Federal Emergency Management Agency, The Unites States Fire Administration and the National Fire Data Center;
  2. NFPA 10R Portable Fire Extinguishing Equipment In Family Dwellings published by the National Fire Protection Association, 1192 Edition
  3. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Average Fire Response Times, March 1, 1994.

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