Case Studies

 A thorough analysis of fire incident data in the small community of Worcester, Massachusetts revealed a concerning increase in the rate of unattended cooking fires. In 2014, 559 unattended cooking fires were reported throughout the city. The following year, 578 unattended cooking fires were reported, an increase of 3.3 percent. Of particular interest was the fact that in 2015, 138 of all the unattended cooking fires came from 4 high-rise buildings. In other words, nearly a quarter of the city’s cooking fires were coming from four buildings. Costs in property damage exceeded $500,000. Those buildings, and the associated repair costs, belonged to the Worcester Housing Authority (WHA). Additionally, the resident profile for these buildings revealed that they were all occupied by older adults among whom 86% suffered from physical and/or mental disabilities. In short, these residents were at high risk for fire injury or death. 

How Installing Pioneering’s Cooking Fire Solution Helped Save Property, Lives, and Money. 

Stove top cooking is the leading cause of household fire throughout North America. In 2011 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 156,300 home fires involving cooking equipment. These fires caused 470 deaths, 5,390 injuries, and $1.0 billion in direct property damage. According to Facts and Figures from NFPA’s Cooking Fires 2010, cooking caused 44% of reported home fires in the U.S., 16% of home-fire deaths, 40% of home-fire injuries, and 15% of the direct property damage in 2010. In fact, 68% of all home cooking fires involve an electric cooking range.  Cooking left unattended is the number one reason for these fires. 

Shockingly, statistics reveal that 43.4% of all stovetop fires occur in multi-unit residences and that 63.2% of stovetop fires are in subsidized units. Fire Marshalls rightly recommend public education and use of stovetop-fire-mitigation technologies in high-risk populations such as multi-family buildings, particularly affordable housing units.

The Problem   

Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority (EMHA) serves Sandusky, Ohio citizens by operating multiple public-housing properties, providing and maintaining safe, affordable housing. Sandusky’s EMHA also administers rent-supplement programs assisting Sandusky families in renting over 1,000 private housing units. Overall, the agency currently provides or arranges safe and affordable housing for thousands of residents.

EMHA sought to increase resident comfort, reduce fires, reduce utility expenses, and promote sustainability. In 2012 Sandusky Fire Department Inspector Steve Rucker secured a Red Cross grant to fund smoke detectors for Sandusky’s low-income residents and seniors. While deploying grant funds Sandusky Fire responded to an unattended cooking fire at EMHA’s “Community Plaza” (a senior residence), which focused Rucker’s attention on stove-top related fires, particularly in low-income and senior housing. Rucker quickly concluded that Sandusky, like every other U.S. community, suffers from a rising number of cooking fires often because of  unattended cooking.

Cooking is the leading cause of household fire and fire injuries in the United States. There are many champions across the U.S. who advocate cooking fire prevention as an essential component of their local fire prevention initiatives. Among them are the following three who, through their hard work and effort, have clearly demonstrated the value of building strong and vibrant partnerships and how cooking fire prevention technology can significantly improve Community Risk Reduction (CRR) outcomes.

It’s snack time on campus somewhere! And somewhere across America in a campus residence, a student has just popped open their microwave oven to feed a craving. They have also just rolled the dice again on having an on campus false alarm activation or worse, a cooking fire. According to the National Protection Fire Association (NFPA) microwave ovens are, on average, involved in more than 7,000 home structure fires every year, that’s more than 19 fires every day. Perhaps surprisingly, microwaves are also responsible for more emergency room injury visits than any other cooking device. More surprising however, is the magnitude of nuisance alarms from microwave ovens.

Located in Potsdam, New York, Clarkson University has, according to their website, been “bridging discovery, and engineering innovation with enterprise since 1986.” So, after experiencing a cooking fire in one of their on-campus apartments, it’s not surprising that Clarkson University choose SmartBurner.

Microwave oven related cooking fires and false alarms are one of the most persistent and significant fire related problems in University campus residence halls and or dorm rooms across the country. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), microwave ovens are involved in 2,100 home structure fires per year and are responsible for more emergency room injury visits than any other cooking device.


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