News and Events

Restaurant Building Fires Report

Emmitsburg, MD – The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report today examining the characteristics of restaurant building fires. The report, Restaurant Building Fires, was developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center and is based on 2007 to 2009 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

According to the report:

  • An estimated 5,900 restaurant building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 75 injuries and $172 million in property loss.
  • The leading cause of all restaurant building fires is cooking at 59 percent and nearly all of these cooking fires (91 percent) are small, confined fires with limited damage.
  • While cooking is the leading cause of all restaurant building fires as well as the smaller, confined restaurant building fires, electrical malfunction is the leading cause of the larger, nonconfined restaurant building fires.
  • Nonconfined restaurant building fires most often start in cooking areas and kitchens (41 percent).
  • Deep fryers (9 percent), ranges (7 percent), and miscellaneous kitchen and cooking equipment (5 percent) are the leading types of equipment involved in ignition in nonconfined restaurant building fires.
  • Smoke alarms were reported as present in 44 percent of nonconfined restaurant building fires. In addition, full or partial automatic extinguishment systems, mainly sprinklers, were present in 47 percent of nonconfined restaurant building fires.

Restaurant Building Fires is part of the Topical Fire Report Series. Topical reports 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.


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