Restaurant Fire Statistics

Industrial Fire
Apr 12,2024

According to NFPA Research, from 2010 to 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,410 structure fires per year in eating and drinking establishments. These incidents not only disrupt business but carry heavy consequences, including an annual average of:

  • 3 civilian deaths
  • 110 civilian injuries,
  • $165 million in property damage.

However, there has been a promising downward trend in restaurant fires over the past few decades.

Source: NFPA

Causes of Restaurant Fires 

The primary culprit in restaurant fires is cooking equipment, which is responsible for 61% of these incidents.

Source: NFPA

Main Cooking Equipment Causing Fires 

According to research by NFPA Research, Quincy, and MA, there are the top 5 pieces of cooking equipment causing fires:

  • Deep Fryer (21%)
  • Grill, Hibachi, Barbecue (6%)
  • Oven, Rotisserie (5%)
  • Portable Cooking or Warming Equipment (5%)
  • Grease Hood/Duct Exhaust Fan (2%)

Notably, most of these fires tend to be contained to the equipment where they originally started.

Prevention Methods for Restaurant Fires

In restaurant fire safety, sprinklers play a crucial role. Insights from John R. Hall Jr.’s report highlight their effectiveness:

  • Sprinklers were present in 23% of restaurant fires, predominantly wet pipe systems.
  • Wet pipes activated in 93% of fires and successfully extinguished 88% of them. Failures were often due to human intervention or system shutoff.
  • Dry pipe systems, less common at 7%, had a more limited role.
  • Other systems made up 14%, with only the nearest to the fire activating.
  • Financially, wet pipe systems reduced fire damage by 75%, representing significant savings.

Timing of Restaurant Fires 

According to the NFIRS 5.0 and NFPA Fire Experience Survey, restaurant fires are distributed quite evenly throughout the year, with each month experiencing a nearly equal share of incidents. There is, however, a noticeable uptick of about 9% in the occurrence of fires during March and July, while the other months average around 8%.

The distribution is similarly consistent when looking at the days of the week. Each day accounts for approximately 13 to 15 percent of fires, with the weekend days—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—showing a marginal increase of 15%.

The pattern remains steady at the time of day. Between 3 and 6 percent of fires occur each hour from midnight to midnight, with the peak being between 10:00 AM and 10:59 AM, at 6%.

A significant point to note is the period from 1:00 AM to 5:59 AM, which suffers disproportionately higher direct damage, with costs ranging from 12 to 15 million dollars despite not having the highest frequency of fires. 

This starkly contrasts other times of the day, which typically see direct damages amounting to between 3 and 9 million dollars.

Conclusion

In conclusion, restaurant fires are a critical but preventable concern. Proper safety measures and fire suppression systems, such as wet pipe sprinklers, have proven to significantly reduce risks. Understanding the common causes, such as cooking equipment malfunctions, allows for targeted prevention strategies for the future.

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.