Structure Fires in U.S. Warehouses

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Report: NFPA's "Structure Fires in Warehouse Properties"
Author: Richard Campbell
Issued: January 2016

Warehouses are properties that are used for the storage of commodities. Warehouses present special challenges for fire protection because their contents and layouts are conducive to fire spread and present obstacles to manual fire suppression efforts. Using data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System and the NFPA Fire Experience Survey, we estimated annual fires and losses during 2009-2013. 

Report highlights 

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 1,210 fires in warehouse properties per year (excluding refrigerated or cold storage), which represents less than 1% of all structure fires.
  • These fires caused an annual average of $155 million in direct property damage, three civilian deaths, and 19 civilian injuries.
  • Fires that were intentionally set and fires caused by electrical distribution and lighting equipment were the leading causes of warehouse fires, each with 18% of the total.
  • Flammable and combustible liquids and gases, piping and filter were the item first ignited in 6% of fires, but these fires caused 31% of civilian injuries and 12% of direct property damage.
  • Approximately one-quarter of fires in warehouses were identified as confined or contained incidents (23%), while 14% were confined to the object of origin.

Structure fires in warehouses by leading causes