Multifamily Industry: October is National Fire Prevention Month


October is National Fire Prevention Month

According to recent data, the average useful life of building components for a multifamily unit is 20-45 years depending on the type of construction. A reinforced concrete frame with a heavy mason exterior offers longer life compared to a wood frame and exterior.

Yet, no matter the type of construction, decades of durability can be reduced to ashes with one flick of a match or cooking mishap.

October is National Fire Prevention Awareness Month and Smokey the Bear has arisen from a summer slumber to give property managers and owners some cold, hard facts about apartment units and fire.

An estimated 108,400 multifamily residential building fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 450 deaths, 3,800 injuries, and $1.1 billion in property loss, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Here are some other interesting facts taken from FEMA’s website:

  • Multifamily residential building fires account for 28 percent of all residential building fires
  • Sixty-seven percent of multifamily residential building fires are small, confined fires
  • Cooking is the leading cause of multifamily residential building fires (65 percent); nearly all multifamily residential building cooking fires are small, confined fires (96 percent)
  • Twenty-seven percent of non-confined multifamily residential building fires extend beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of larger fires are electrical malfunctions (13 percent), exposure fires (12 percent), fires caused by open flames (12 percent), and intentionally set fires (12 percent). In contrast, 46 percent of non-confined one- and two-family residential building fires extend beyond the room of origin
  • Cooking areas and kitchens are the primary area of origin for non-confined multifamily residential building fires (32 percent) and are likely to be the primary origin for all multifamily residential building fires when confined cooking fires are factored into the analysis
  • Multifamily residential building fires peak slightly in December (10 percent)

Avoiding a big blaze starts with prevention, like up-to-date extinguishers, sprinkler systems, fire drills, restricting open flames on balconies, turning off portable heaters when not in use, etc. The list goes on.

Look for more fire prevention articles this month on Property Management Insider as we hope to provide valuable information to lessen the risk of a fire in apartment homes.

To paraphrase Smokey, “Only you can prevent apartment fires.”


Contributor, Property Management Insider

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Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

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