U.S. residents are taking steps to make their homes safer from fire, according to The Hartford’s 2023 Home Fire Index. The index is based on an analysis of the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS)1 and a national survey conducted by The Hartford on fire safety and prevention behaviors among the general population.
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The survey, which polled adults ages 18+, revealed that behaviors known to cause home fires markedly declined since the months immediately preceding the COVID-19-related lockdown in 2020, including:
- Leaving a lit candle near drapes or other flammable household items (75% decrease)
- Falling asleep with a fire burning in a fireplace (64% decrease)
- Leaving matches and lighters in the open with children present (55% decrease)
- Overloading electrical outlets (45% decrease)
In addition to a decrease in risky behaviors, survey respondents reported an increase in behaviors that can help to prevent a fire or limit the damage a fire may cause, including the number of people who:
- Have a smoke detector in every bedroom (46% increase)
- Replace the batteries in their smoke detector at least once a year (27% increase)
- Have an escape plan in place in the event of a fire (16% increase)
“While we are encouraged by the improvements we have seen in fire safety and prevention, we know there is still work to be done,” said The Hartford’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Claire Burns. “The Hartford is committed to reducing the frequency and impact of home fires in the U.S. through marquee educational initiatives like our Junior Fire Marshal Program that equips children with lifesaving lessons about fire safety. Children play a significant role in keeping homes safe from fire, and we are proud to provide parents and educators with the tools and resources they need to teach the next generation about reducing fire risk.”
According to the index, ranking the top 150 U.S. cities with the highest home fire risk, the top five cities are: Modesto, Calif., Shreveport, La., Fresno, Calif., Montgomery, Ala. and Memphis, Tenn. A complete list of the 150 U.S. cities can be found at www.thehartford.com/jfm.
This is the third Home Fire Index from The Hartford. Previous versions of the index were released in 2017 and 2020. Significant changes in the 2023 rankings compared to 2020 include:
Grand Rapids, Mich.
A home fire is reported in the U.S. every 93 seconds2. The Hartford’s Junior Fire Marshal program, one of the country’s oldest corporate-sponsored public education programs, has committed $1.5 million over the next three years to local fire departments, and will educate 1.5 million kindergarten through third grade students on fire safety and prevention. The funding and resources will go to the 150 U.S. cities identified in The Hartford’s Home Fire Index.
The History of the Junior Fire Marshal Program
The Junior Fire Marshal program was started in 1947 by an employee of The Hartford. Since the program’s inception, The Hartford has deputized more than 112 million Junior Fire Marshals.
The company’s signature red fire helmets have been displayed proudly by generations of children who have learned the basics of fire safety through this innovative and educational program. The program teaches lifesaving lessons such as Matches and Lighters are for Grown-ups and Create and Practice an Escape Plan. These lessons, along with other fun, engaging and educational activities, help parents and teachers have meaningful and vital fire safety conversations with children and students.
Over the years, celebrities such as Ron Howard, Dick Van Dyke, Jack Benny, Jimmy Dean, Mr. Green Jeans and Captain Kangaroo, Carol Channing, Red Skelton, Johnny Carson, Robert Young, Henry "the Fonz" Winkler and Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan have helped The Hartford recognize children who participated in the Junior Fire Marshal program.
For more information about The Hartford’s Home Fire Index and Junior Fire Marshal Program, visit www.thehartford.com/jfm.
1 NFIRS is a voluntary reporting system run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency based on data submitted by fire departments from around the country. The data was standardized based on population size and adjusted as needed to reflect the voluntary nature of the data within the system.
2According to the National Fire Protection Association
About The Hartford Home Fire Index
The Hartford Home Fire Index is based on a study of the cities within the largest 150 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on the number of total housing units as reported by the U.S. Census 2020 DP-4 Demographic table. The Hartford calculated rates of residential fires for each city by using the number of annual residential structure fires reported in NFIRS and dividing it by the U.S. Census 2020 ACS estimated housing units. The Hartford also conducted a survey on fire safety and prevention behaviors among the general population in late 2022. Survey respondents (approximately 100 per city/MSA) were given a score based on adoption of fire safety best practices. Standardized fire rates and survey scores were combined to produce a ranked, composite Home Fire Risk score for each city/MSA.
About The Hartford
The Hartford is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at https://www.thehartford.com.
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