Stats every firefighter should know about Halloween fires

Halloween, including the day before, consistently produces 60 percent more incendiary and suspicious structure fires than the average day

Fires happen any time or day of the year, but there are four specific holidays that see a dramatic increase in fires.

The spike for three of those holidays — Independence Day, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays of Christmas and New Year's — can be chalked up to incendiary devices and home cooking. And then there's Halloween.

Research shows that Halloween, including the so-called "Devil's Night," has about 60 percent more incendiary and suspicious structure fires than on an average day.

From 2001-2002, the day and night of Devil's Night (Oct. 30) had a 59 percent increase and Halloween had a 63 percent increase of incendiary or suspicious structure fires.

In Detroit, a special effort has been made to combat the incident of arson on Devil's Night. Police and city officials created a program, called Angels' Night, for the turnaround in arson activity.

Volunteers in Detroit keep a high profile patrolling neighborhoods with flashing amber beacons and communicate via radios or cellphone to report suspicious activity. In recent years, arson and other crimes have dropped — much to the success of Angels' Night volunteers.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 10,300 fires were reported in the U.S. over a three-day period around Halloween from 2011-2013. These caused an estimated 25 deaths, 125 injuries and $83 million in property loss.

Other Halloween fire statistics from 2011-2013 include:

  • 38 percent of fires during Halloween happen outside, while 33 percent are residential.
  • Fires occur during dinner hours from 5 to 7 p.m. and in the early morning hours from 4 to 7 a.m.
  • Leading cause of Halloween residential fires is cooking (44 percent), heating (15 percent), unintentional carless actions (7 percent), open flame (6 percent), electrical malfunction (6 percent) and intentional actions (5 percent).

We want to know: does your department see an increase in fires before and during Halloween? And, what success, if any, has your department had in keeping fires and fatalities low during the mischief-maker holiday?

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