Erie Metropolitan Housing Success Story

December 6, 2023

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

Stovetop 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.