Industrial Fires Statistics: Overview & Data

Industrial Fire
Apr 12,2024

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that between 2017 and 2021, US fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 36,784 industrial fires.

This annual average of 36,784 fires can be broken down into the following categories:

  • 25,021 Outside or unclassified fires
  • 8,077 Structure fires
  • 3,687 Vehicle fires

The data further highlights the critical nature of these events:

Source: NFPA

The high vitality in industrial fire statistics is likely because 42% of structural fires in industrial properties are non-confined, meaning they are not contained.

Type of Industrial Fires by Industry Type 

As it stands, the manufacturing or processing sector experiences the highest number of fires, civilian injuries, and direct property damage compared to any other industry.

Source: NFPA

This observation is also corroborated by research from the Fire Industry Association (FIA), which indicates that most fires occur in factory-based settings rather than other sectors, such as retail.

Source: FIA

The leading cause of these industrial fires is the failure of equipment or heat sources. This particular cause is prevalent and linked to the most significant amount of property damage.

Source: NFPA

From 2016 to 2021, property damage from failing equipment and heat sources amounted to a staggering $97 million.

The FIA’s study further cements this, suggesting that a significant number of fires originate from electrical industrial machinery.

Source: FIA

When Do Industrial Fires Happen? 

Industrial fires peak 9% in January, March, April, and July, possibly due to seasonal production increases and temperature-related risks.

Source: NFPA

Additionally, from a daily perspective, Tuesday to Thursday hold the most industrial fires at 16%.

Source: NFPA

Interestingly, data indicates a peak in industrial fires between 1:00 PM and 1:59 PM.

Source: NFPA

The Danger of Industrial Fires

Industrial fires pose a significant danger due to the immediate threat they present and their potential to spread rapidly beyond the initial source.

The complex layout of industrial buildings, combined with highly flammable materials and chemicals, can lead to a swift escalation that overwhelms containment efforts. The diagram below from NFPA shows this.

Source: NFPA

Conclusion

In conclusion, the statistics on industrial fires highlight the significant risks these events pose to property, lives, and business continuity. The data underscores the importance of stringent safety measures, regular equipment maintenance, and comprehensive fire response plans.

As industries continue to evolve, so must our approaches to fire prevention and safety. By staying informed and proactive, we can reduce the incidence of industrial fires and mitigate their impact when they occur.

About the Author

Industrial Fire

We are a family-owned and operated business. Industrial Fire has proudly served Houston, Texas, for over seven decades. Fire protection technology has changed a lot since we started doing business in 1945. Still, one thing hasn’t changed, our commitment to providing our neighbors in Houston, TX, with the best fire protection services and equipment available.