Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Fatal Fires: Summary

Ontario Fatal Fires: 10 years, 2008 - 2017

The information in this report is for Ontario Fatal fires during the ten year period from 2008 to 2017

Data Source: The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) investigates fatal fires in Ontario.

Revised: July 2019

Ontario Fire Fatalities

In most fatal fires only 1 person dies, however there are a small number of fatal fires each year where there are multiple fatalities.

In 2008, there were 99 fire fatalities.

In 2017, there were 79 fire fatalities.

Fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties in Ontario are excluded from the graph totals.

Fire deaths in vehicle accidents are not included in these totals.

Fatal Fires Summary Fire Fatalities
 

Fire Death Rate in Ontario: All Fatalities

The fire death rate is the number of fatalities per million population.

In 2008 there were 99 fire deaths, the population was 12.8 million, the fire death rate was 7.7.

In 2017 there were 79 fire deaths, the population was 14.2 million, the fire death rate was 5.6.

Fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties in Ontario are excluded from these totals.
Fire deaths in vehicle accidents are not included in these totals.
Population Source: Statistics Canada

Fatal Fires Summary Fire Death Rate: All Fatalities
 

 

Fire Death Rate in Ontario: Structure Fires 

The majority of the fire deaths occur in structures.

The structure fire death rate is the number of structure fire fatalities per million population.

In 2008 there were 88 fire deaths in structures, the population was 12.9 million, the fire death rate was 6.8.

In 2017 there were 70 fire deaths in structures, the population was 14.2 million, the fire death rate was 4.9.

Fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties in Ontario are excluded from these totals.
Fire deaths in vehicle accidents are not included in these totals.
Population Source: Statistics Canada.

Fatal Fires Summary Fire Death Rate in Ontario: Structure Fires

Ontario Fatal fires

The number of fatal fires in Ontario was 89 in 2008 and 70 in 2017.

Fatal fires occurring on First Nations or Federal properties are not included in graph totals.

Fire deaths occurring in vehicle accidents are not included in these totals.

Fatal Fires Summary Fatal Fires


 

Fatal fires by month: 10 year averages

A higher number of fatal fires/fire fatalities occur in the winter months.  Fatal fires involving smoking and heating are higher during this period.

The 2008 to 2017, 10 year average number of fatal fires per month were:

January ‐ 8;  February ‐ 6;  March ‐ 8;  April ‐ 6;  May ‐ 6 ; June ‐ 4;  July ‐ 4;  August ‐ 6;

September ‐ 4;  October ‐ 6;  November ‐ 7;  December ‐ 9.

Fatal fires occurring on First Nations or Federal properties are not included in these totals.
Fire deaths occurring in vehicle accidents are not included in these totals.

Fatal Fires Summary Fatal fires by month: 10 year averages

Ontario Fatal Fires by Hour of day

More fatal fires occur in the late night/early morning hours. 

42% of fatal fires occurred between 10 pm and 6:59 am (2008 to 2017).

Fatal fires occurring on First Nations or Federal properties are not included in these totals.
Fire deaths occurring in vehicle accidents are not included in these totals.

Fatal Fires Summary Ontario Fatal Fires by Hour of day

Fatal Fires: Cause class

Most fatal fires are unintentional and could have been prevented. 
Over 10 years, OFMEM Fire Investigators have determined that 20% of the fatal fires were Intentional (Arson, homicide, suicide), 51% were Unintentional/Preventable, 29% Undetermined (the evidence was destroyed or inconclusive). 

Unintentional/Preventable Fires include:

  • Misuse of Ignition Source or material first ignited 42%
  • Electrical/mechanical failure 3%
  • Children playing, less than 1%
  • Design/construction/maintenance deficiency 2%
  • Other unintentional 4%

Fatal Fires Summary Fatal Fires: Cause class


 

Fatal Fires: Property Class

85% of fatal fires occurred in Residential properties. 
Vehicle fire deaths (4%) are those where the fire DID NOT result from a vehicle accident - these deaths occurred in parked vehicles, and often the fire was intentionally set (e.g. suicide). 

8% occurred outdoors or in structures not classified by the building code (e.g. shed, barn) - the majority of “Not classified by Ontario Building code” are outdoor fires.

1% occurred in Industrial, 1% in Detention and Care.

The majority of unintentional/preventable fires resulting in a fire death are in residential occupancies, so the focus of the following information is on fatal fires that occur in the home.

Fatal Fires Summary Fatal Fires: Property Class

Fire Death Rate in Ontario: Residential Structure Fires

The majority of the structure fire deaths occur in residential structures.

The residential fire death rate is the number of residential fire fatalities per million population.

In 2008 there were 83 fire deaths in residential structures, the population was 12.9 million, the fire death rate was 6.5.

In 2017 there were 63 fire deaths in residential structures, the population was 14.2 million, the fire death rate was 4.4.

Fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties in Ontario are excluded from these totals.
Fire deaths in vehicle accidents are not included in these totals.
Population Source: Statistics Canada

Fatal Fires Summary Fire Death Rate in Ontario: Residential Structure Fires

Fire Death rate: the number of fire fatalities divided by the population multiplied by 1 million


Residential Fatal Fires: Ignition Source

The ignition sources in 10 years of fatal residential fires (639 fires) were determined by OFMEM investigations.

Fires where the Ignition source is Unknown (Undetermined, Unintentional Undetermined, not reported or under investigation) 30% (189 fatal fires).

Lit Smokers’ materials (cigarettes, pipes) is the ignition source that is involved in the most fatal fires at 26% (168 fatal fires).

Arson which includes homicide and suicide was the cause in 14% of fatal fires (90 fatal fires). Cooking equipment is at 15% (93 fatal fires).

Matches and Lighters 4% (25 fatal fires).

Electrical wiring 3% (17 fatal fires).

Candles 2% (10 fatal fires).

Heating, including furnaces and fireplaces 2% (11 fatal fires).

Fatal Fires Summary Residential Fatal Fires: Ignition Source
 


Residential Fatal Fires: Ignition Source 

Average number of fire fatalities per year

Excluding arson and ignition source undetermined

Comparing the average number of fire fatalities by ignition source during the 5 year period 2008 to 2012 with the 5 year period 2013 to 2017 shows that fire fatalities in fires ignited by cigarettes have slightly increased.

Cigarettes 2008‐2012, average of 18 fire fatalities per year.
Cigarettes 2013‐2017, average of 19 fire fatalities per year.

Cooking 2013‐2017, 6 fire fatalities per year.

Matches and Lighters 2013‐2017, 2 fire fatalities per year.

Electrical wiring 2013‐2017 ‐ 2 fire fatalities per year.

Heating 2013‐2017, 1 fire fatality per year.

Candles 2013‐2017, 1 fire fatality per year.

Fatal Fires Summary Residential Fatal Fires: Ignition Source  Average number of fire fatalities per year
 

Residential Fire fatalities: By age group

From 2008 to 2017:

  • 3% (24) of the fire fatalities were under 10years;
  • 5% (37) were 10 to 19;
  • 5% (38) were 20 to 29 ;
  • 8% (60) were 30 to 39;
  • 14% (100) were 40 to 49;
  • 19% (133) were 50 to 59;
  • 16% (116) were 60 to 69;
  • 16% (116) were 70 to 79;
  • 14% (101) were 80+.

(For more information see report: “Residential fatalities 10 years: Adult, children, seniors”.)

Fatal Fires Summary Residential Fire fatalities: By age group
 

Smoke Alarm Operation: Fatal Residential fires *

* Arson fires not included

Fire investigations provided information on smoke alarm operation in 73% of preventable fatal residential fires – in 21% the presence of a smoke alarm could not be determined.

In 36% of preventable residential fires where there was a fatality there was no smoke alarm warning:  15% there was no smoke alarm, and in 21% the smoke alarm did not operate (3% of alarms had a dead battery, 7% had no battery, 4% were beyond the smoke area, 7% other reason for non operation).

In 30% of these fatal fires there was a smoke alarm that operated.

In 7% of these fatal fires the operation of the smoke alarm could not be determined.

Note:  Residential property types “Detached garage” and “Tent” are excluded from these fatal fires.

Fatal Fires Summary Smoke Alarm Operation: Fatal Residential fires * * Arson fires not included