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Report: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires Involving Decorations"
Author: Marty Ahrens

Issued: November 2015

This analysis of home fires beginning with decorations includes information on when these fires occur, area of origin, recent trends and causal factors.

Executive Summary

Decorations are a part of many celebrations and holiday observances. They are often seasonal or temporary. Unfortunately, fire safety is sometimes overlooked when putting up decorations. 


National estimates of reported home structure fires derived from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey show that in 2009-2013, decorations, excluding Christmas trees, were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 860 reported home structure fires per year, resulting in an annual average of one civilian fire death, 41 civilian fire injuries, and $13.4 million in direct property damage. 


Candles were the heat source in 38% of the fires. The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or some type of equipment in almost half (45%) of these incidents.  Decoration fires peak in December. 


This fact sheet and accompanying table describe the common causes and circumstances of these fires. These findings identify issues that should be highlighted for decorating safety.

Home fires that began with decorations