Topical Fire Research Series
Volume 7, Issue 1 / January 2007
Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings Findings:
■Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually.
■Eighty percent of clothes dryer fires in structures occur in residential buildings.
■Annually, 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries.
■“Failure to clean” is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
■New home construction trends place clothes dryers and washing machines in more hazardous locations away from outside walls such as bedrooms, second-floor hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens
For many households and other establishments, the clothes dryer is an indispensable convenience and necessity. However, if clothes dryers are not properly installed or maintained, critical fires can occur. Using the latest 3 years of data, from 2002 to 2004, the yearly national fire loss for clothes dryer fires in structures is estimated at $99 million. Each year, these losses result from an estimated 15,600 fires that required a fire department response. These clothes dryer fires cause an annual average of approximately 400 injuries and 15 fatalities.
Fire Rates Attributed to Clothes Dryers
Dryer fires in nonresidential buildings are far more injurious than those in their residential counterparts. The injury rates resulting from nonresidential building dryer fires is 78% higher than the injury rate for dryer fires in residential buildings. Dollar loss per fire, however, is higher (by 23%) for residential building dryer fires (Table 1). Nonresidential buildings generally can include large occupancy-type buildings such as hospitals, schools, institutions, service areas, or stores, where the incidence of even a small fire could affect more people. The only deaths reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), however, occurred in residential buildings.
NFIRS data show that 80% of clothes dryer fires in structures occur in residential buildings and resulted in approximately 12,700 fires, 15 deaths, 300 injuries, and $88 million in property loss each year.4,5 As the residential portion of these fires predominates, the primary focus of
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