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Identifying vulnerable populations to death and injuries from residential fires
  1. Stanley W Gilbert,
  2. David T Butry
  1. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stanley W Gilbert, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive, MS 8603, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA; stanley.gilbert{at}


Objective This study proposes and evaluates the theory that people who are susceptible to injury in residential fires are not susceptible to death in residential fires and vice versa. It is proposed that the population vulnerable to death in residential fires can be proxied by ‘frailty’, which is measured as age–gender adjusted fatality rates due to natural causes.

Methods This study uses an ecological approach and controls for exposure to estimate the vulnerability of different population groups to death and injury in residential fires. It allows fatalities and injuries to be estimated by different models.

Results Frailty explains fire-related death in adults while not explaining injuries, which is consistent with the idea that deaths and injuries affect disjoint populations.

Conclusions Deaths and injuries in fire are drawn from different populations. People who are susceptible to dying in fires are unlikely to be injured in fires, and the people who are susceptible to injury are unlikely to die in fires.

  • residential fires
  • deaths
  • injuries
  • frailty

Statistics from


  • Contributors Both authors gave considerable contribution to one or more of the following conditions for authorship: study design, data acquisition, analysis and interpretation of results or intellectual content. Both authors gave final approval of the manuscript for publication.

  • Funding The International Association of Fire Fighters for providing data and a FEMA Fire Grant for support as part of the FireCARES Project.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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