School Fire Statistics

Industrial Fire
Apr 12,2024

School fires, while a serious concern, tend to have a lower incidence of fatalities compared to other industries.

Additionally, the financial impact per incident is relatively moderate, with the cost per fire typically ranging from $14,948 to $25,349. This can be largely attributed to stringent fire drill regulations in educational institutions.

For example, in Atlanta, schools are mandated to conduct at least two fire drills within the first 30 days of the school year, ensuring that staff and students are well-prepared in the event of an actual fire.

Key School Fire Statistics

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides critical insights into school fire incidents in the United States:

  • Fire departments attend to an estimated 3,230 school-related structural fires annually.
  • Annually, these incidents result in roughly one civilian fatality, 39 civilian injuries, and property damage amounting to $37 million.
  • Deliberate acts of setting fires emerge as the predominant cause of these fires, representing almost 40% of the cases.
  • Bathrooms and locker rooms are frequently identified as the initial locations for these fires.
  • The majority of school fires take place during school hours, specifically from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., accounting for about two-thirds of the incidents.

Causes of School Fires 

Surprisingly, the primary cause of school fires is intentional, often classified as arson.

Source: USFA

Additionally, the leading area of fire origin in non-confined school building fires was the bathroom, accounting for 25 percent of incidents.

Furthermore, the majority of fires occur in middle schools, junior highs, and high schools.

Source: USFA

Number of School Fires by Country

Despite the raw number of school fires in the United States seeming high, when adjusted for population, the country actually experiences fewer school fires per capita compared to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

This suggests that, in relation to the size of its population, the United States is somewhat safer from school fires than these other nations.

Source: Research Gate

School Fire Fatalities 

Fatalities resulting from school building fires are exceptionally rare. This is largely due to the fact that in 75 percent of school building fires, the fire spread is effectively contained to the object of origin, preventing more widespread damage and potential loss of life.

It’s important to note that a significant safety feature in schools is the presence of smoke alarms. In fact, 66% of all school fires had a smoke alarm present, which is a much higher percentage compared to other types of fires in the United States.


In conclusion, although the threat of school fires is a serious concern, the evidence suggests that schools in the US are fire-safe.

The reasons behind this include:

  • Consistent fire drills
  • Installation of smoke detectors
  • Prompt responses from emergency services

Looking ahead, it is imperative for all stakeholders—school staff, students, families, and government entities—to continue upholding and enhancing these safety measures.

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.