Americans Typically Misjudge Fire Risks, Feel Safer From Fire in Homes vs. High-rise Buildings

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Two thirds of Americans feel safer in their homes than in commercial high-rise buildings, despite the fact that fire-related injuries and deaths are far more common in the home, according to a survey conducted by the Society for Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE). The survey also showed that wealthy Americans think about the risk of fire less frequently than those with lower incomes.

Americans don't necessarily think about all the technology in high-rise buildings - like fire suppression and alarm systems - which are designed by fire protection engineers to dramatically reduce the risk of injury or death

A nationwide survey conducted by Bethesda, MD-based Society for Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) reveals that 65 percent of Americans feel safer in their homes than in commercial high-rise buildings, despite the fact that fire-related injuries and deaths are far more common in the home.

In fact, according to Federal Government Statistics, 83 percent of all civilian fire deaths were the result of fires in the home. In 2005, the last year were data was available, US fire departments responded to approximately 400,000 home fires that resulted in more than 3,000 deaths.

The survey also revealed that only seven percent of Americans feel safer in a high-rise building than in a home, while 25 percent don't feel any difference.

"Americans don't necessarily think about all the technology in high-rise buildings - like fire suppression and alarm systems - which are designed by fire protection engineers to dramatically reduce the risk of injury or death," says Chris Jelenewicz, SFPE's engineering program manager. "Additionally, since the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, people think differently about high-rise building fire safety."

Fortunately, since 9/11, fire protection engineers have worked hard to improve the science & technology that is needed to make tall buildings safer from fire by developing better construction methods and building codes.

The survey also reveals that 54 percent of Americans think about fire and the dangers of fire either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. However, a sizeable 44 percent think about fire just once a year--or less.

Another noteworthy finding from the survey reveals that wealthy Americans think about the risk of fire less frequently than those with lower incomes.

Fifteen percent of people surveyed with a household income under $25,000 think about fire on a daily basis, whereas only eight percent of those surveyed with a household income above $75,000 do so.

The findings support other research which has found a connection between one's income and the chance of death or injury caused by a fire. Those in lower income groups are more at risk, according to the studies.

The survey was commissioned by the Society for Fire Protection Engineers in conjunction with National Engineering Week, February 18-24, and was conducted in January 2007 by Synovate, polled more than one thousand American adults. The findings have a margin of error of plus (+) or minus (-) three percent.

For more information about how fire protection engineers make the world safe from fire go to http://www.sfpe.org/.

What is a fire protection engineer?

A fire protection engineer applies science and engineering principles to protect people, homes, workplaces, the economy and the environment from the devastating effects of fires. Fire protection engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires start and grow, and how fires affect people and property. They use the latest technologies to design systems to control fires, alert people to danger, and provide means for escape. Fire protection engineers also work closely with other professionals, including engineers of other disciplines, architects, state and local building officials, and local fire departments to build fire safe communities. The job market for fire protection engineers has remained strong for years due to the disparity between the large number of job openings and relatively small pool of potential employees.

About Society of Fire Protection Engineers

Organized in 1950, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers is the professional society for engineers involved in the field of fire protection engineering. The purposes of SFPE are to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering, maintain a high ethical standing among its members and foster fire protection engineering education. SFPE's worldwide members include engineers in private practice, in industry and in local, regional and national government. Chapters are located in Canada, China, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

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