The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released an updated report on the total cost of fire in the U.S. which showed that the total cost of fire in 2011 was estimated at $329 billion, or roughly 2.1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Adjusted for inflation, the total cost represents a 34 percent increase over 1980, while its proportion of U.S. gross domestic product has declined by about one-third.
However, both the total cost of fire and its associated percentage of GDP have been roughly steady for the past decade and a half.
The core total cost of fire is defined as the sum of economic loss (e.g. property damage, business interruption) and the cost of provisions to prevent or mitigate the cost of fire (e.g. fire departments, insurance, and the fire protection part of construction).
The complete total cost of fires adds costs that cannot be measured every year or do not involve direct payments. This includes costs of compliance with fire safety standards for equipment and other products, the value of the time donated by volunteer firefighters, human loss (e.g. lives lost, medical treatment, pain and suffering), and federal government costs for fighting wildfires.
Following are other key findings from the report:
- Although the core total cost of fire has increased by 40 percent from 1980 to 2011 to a total of $108.4 billion, the economic loss due to fire decreased by 31 percent, totaling $14.9 billion, with all figures adjusted for inflation.
- Fires in 2011 caused $13.3 billion in direct property damage (reported or unreported), which represented 89 percent of economic loss that year. The other 11 percent was indirect loss, such as temporary housing and business interruption.
- New building construction for fire protection was estimated to cost $31 billion in 2011.
For a fact sheet on the total cost of fire, please visit www.nfpa.org/TotalCost.