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Fires in Structures Under Construction

Report: NFPA's "Fires in Structures Under Construction" 
Author: Richard Campbell
Issued: October 2022



Report highlights
  • Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 4,300 fires in structures under construction per year in 2016 through 2020.
  • These fires caused an average of five civilian deaths, 62 civilian injuries, and $376 million in direct property damage annually.
  • Three of every four fires in structures under construction involved residential properties.
  • Cooking equipment is the leading cause of fires on construction sites.
  • The estimated number of fires in structures under construction has increased since 2014 after declining between 2008 and 2010.
  • Fires in structures under construction were most common in the afternoon and evening, but fires that occurred between midnight and 6 a.m., accounted for more than half of direct property damage.
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Fires in structures under construction

NFPA codes & standards

Many large and costly fires involving buildings under construction underscore the need for more widespread use of NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration and Demolition Operations, to address a range of related hazards.

Multiple large-scale fires have occurred at construction sites in 2017, resulting in multi-millions dollar losses - both in direct property damage and losses beyond the structure of origin. Many, if not all, of these incidents could have been prevented with the safeguards included in NFPA 241.

Related training

Every building construction site is unique and presents its own set of challenges. No matter the scope of the job, there are different variables that can impact fire prevention and safety that only increase with the size and complexity of the project. To avoid hazards that could lead to fire, accidents, and injury, it’s critical workers, managers, and owners understand their roles and be proactive and vigilant in staying up to date with the latest knowledge and protocols.

NFPA® provides high-impact training in how to mitigate construction site fire risks based on the latest requirements and criteria. Featured courses for personnel responsible for maintaining fire safety on construction sites include: