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Comparison of the characteristics of fire and non-fire households in the 2004–2005 survey of fire department-attended and unattended fires
  1. Michael A Greene
  1. US Consumer Product Safety Commission (retired), 4340 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael A Greene, 9811 Dairyton Court, Montgomery Village, MD 20886-1121, USA; michael.greene{at}


Objective Comparison of characteristics of fire with non-fire households to determine factors differentially associated with fire households (fire risk factors).

Design, setting and subjects National household telephone survey in 2004–2005 by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission with 916 fire households and a comparison sample of 2161 non-fire households. There were an estimated 7.4 million fires (96.6% not reported to fire departments) with 130 000 injuries.

Main outcome measure Bivariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression analyses to assess differences in household characteristics.

Results Significant factors associated with fire households were renting vs. owning (OR 1.988 p<0.0001); household members under 18 year of age (OR 1.277 p<0.0001); lack of residents over 64 years old (OR 0.552 p=0.0007); and college or higher education (some college OR 1.444 p=0.0360, college graduate OR 1.873, p<0.0001, postgraduate OR 2.156 p<0.0001). Not significant were age of house; race; ethnicity; and income. Number of smokers was borderline significant (OR 1.132 p=0.1019) but was significant in the subset of fire households with non-cooking fires (OR 1.383 p=0.0011). Single family houses were associated with non-fire households in the bivariate analysis but not in the multivariate analyses.

Conclusion Renting, household members under 18 years old and smokers are risk factors for unattended fires, similar to the literature for fatal and injury fires. Differences included household members over 65 years old (associated with non-fire households), college/postgraduate education (associated with fire households) and lack of significance of income. Preventing cooking fires (64% of survey incidents), smoking prevention efforts and fire prevention education for families with young children have the potential for reducing unattended fires and injuries.

  • Epidemiology
  • statistical issues
  • surveys

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  • Funding In addition to funding from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, funding was also provided by the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the US Fire Administration, Department of Homeland Security.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.