Evaluation of Low-Energy and Smoking Materials Relating to Fire Ignition

The study conducted a detailed evaluation of fire statistics from four countries to compare the number of deaths and injuries from structure fires started by a small open flame ignition source relative to death counts from fires started by smoking materials. The analysis indicated that smoking material ignition fires tend to more commonly result in fatalities relative to other low-energy ignition fires.1 Source: Anderson, Austin, and Marc Janssens. “A multi-national survey of low-energy and smoking materials ignition fires.” Fire technology 52, no. 6 (2016): 1709-1735.

Key Takeaways:

  • Smoking material ignition fires tend to more commonly result in fatalities than low-energy ignition fires, while the overall volume of low-energy ignition fires is greater.
  • Age, item first ignited, race, and season of year are all significant variables in differentiating between low-energy ignition fire fatalities and smoking materials fire fatalities. Notably, the older a person is, generally the more susceptible they are to perishing in a fire resulting from smoking materials ignition rather than low-energy ignition. 
  • Upholstered furniture, mattress, and bedding fires tend to be strongly correlated with smoking materials ignition sources, with regards to fatalities compared against other potential first items ignited.