Elderly at Home: A Case for the Systematic Collection and Analysis of Fire Statistics in Spain

  • M. Fernández-VigilEmail author
  • B. Echeverría Trueba


At the present time, there is no nation-wide, systematic approach to collecting, analyzing and presenting fire loss data in Spain. This makes it very difficult to understand the fire problem in general, and more specifically with respect to vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. As first steps to overcome the lack of a nationally populated and managed fire incident database, a methodology for collecting fire data, based on information extracted from the media, was developed. This approach is modeled in part on the Fire Incident Data Organization system from the National Fire Protection Association in the United States, which identifies significant fires through a clipping service, the Internet and other sources. For the initial Spanish database, selected variables were chosen from similar statistics gathered in other countries. The variables are related to the place and moment of the fire, its causes and consequences, the building typology and state, and the fatal and non-fatal victims involved, among other factors. In the initial data set, data concerning residential fires occurred between January 2016 and December 2016 was collected, and variables were analyzed. An initial focus was to identify the risk factors for one of the most vulnerable groups in case of fire, the elderly people. The development of this first-ever nationally-representative database of fire incidents in Spain is overviewed, and analysis of elderly population in dwelling fires is presented as a study case that represents the value and need of such a national database in Spain.


Fire data Fire statistics Elderly people Residential buildings Spain 



The present paper is part of the Ph.D.: “Fire Risk in dwellings occupied by elderly people in Spain” developed by María Fernández-Vigil and headed by Dr. Beatriz Gil and Dr. Juan Echeverría and funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Brian Meacham for his valuable advices. Fernández-Vigil would like to thank Dr. Rita F. Fahy and all the members of the Fire Analysis & Research Division of the NFPA, for their warm hospitality during the research stay and all the feedback provided.


  1. 1.
    United States Fire Administration (2011) National fire incident reporting system version 5.0 fire data analysis guidelines and issuesGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    UK Department for Communities and Local Government (2009) incident recording system-questions and lists. LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Zhang G, Lee AH, Lee HC, Clinton M (2006) Fire safety among the elderly in Western Australia. Fire Saf J 41:57–61. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Duncanson M, Woodward A, Reid P (2002) Socioeconomic deprivation and fatal unintentional domestic fire incidents in New Zealand 1993–1998. Fire Saf J 37:165–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sekizawa A (2012) Necessity of fire statistics and analysis using fire incident database-Japanese case. Fire Sci Technol 31:67–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Runefors M, Johansson N, Van Hees P (2016) How could the fire fatalities have been prevented? An analysis of 144 cases during 2011–2014 in Sweden. J Fire Sci 34:515–527. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mulvaney C, Kendrick D, Towner E, Brussoni M, Hayes M, Powell J, Robertson S, Ward H (2009) Fatal and non-fatal fire injuries in England 1995-2004: time trends and inequalities by age, sex and area deprivation. J Public Health 31:154–161. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sekizawa A (2015) Challenges in fire safety in a society facing a rapidly aging population. Fire Prot Eng 1:31–38Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Rohde D, Corcoran J, Sydes M, Higginson A (2016) The association between smoke alarm presence and injury and death rates: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fire Saf J 81:58–63. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Harpur AP, Boyce KE, Mcconnell NC (2014) An investigation into the circumstances surrounding elderly dwelling fire fatalities and the barriers to implementing fire safety strategies among this group. In: Proceedings of the eleventh international symposium on fire safety science. IAFSS, pp 1144–1159Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gulaid JA, Sacks JJ, Sattin RW (1989) Deaths from residential fires among older people, United States, 1984. J Am Geriatr Soc 37:331–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Elder AT, Squires T, Busuttil A (1996) Fire fatalities in elderly people. Age and ageing 25:214–216. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    United States Fire Administration (2013) Fire risk to older adults in 2010. Top Fire Rep Ser 14:1–8Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    United States Fire Administration (2001) Older adults and fire. Top Fire Rep Ser 1:1–5Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    United States Fire Administration, National Fire Data Center (2006) Fire and the older adultGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fundación Mapfre, APTB (2010) Víctimas de incendios en España 2010 (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Fundación Mapfre, APTB (2011) Víctimas de Incendios en España 2011 (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Fundación Mapfre, APTB (2014) Víctimas de incendios en España 2012 y 2013 (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Fundación Mapfre, APTB (2015) Víctimas de incendios en España en 2014 (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fundación Mapfre, APTB (2016) Víctimas de incendios en españa en 2015 (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Fundación Mapfre, APTB (2017) Víctimas de Incendios en España en 2016 (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ministerio de la presidencia (1985) Real Decreto 1053/1985, de 25 de mayo, sobre ordenación de la estadísticas de las actuaciones de los Servicios cotra Incendios y de Salvamento (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Dirección General de Protección Civil. España (1985) Manual de instrucciones y Códigos. Parte Unificado de Actuación para los Servicios de Extinción de Incendios y de Salvamento (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Boj-Garcıá P, Rubio-Romero JC (2014) Typification of fires in buildings in Spain. Fire Technol 50:1089–1105. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (2001) Barómetro de Noviembre. Estudio n° 2.439 (in Spanish) Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Instituto Nacional de Estadística (2011) Censos de Población y Viviendas 2011. Cifras de población y censos demográficos. Accessed 19 Jul 2018 (in Spanish)
  27. 27.
    Organisation for economic co-operation and development (2017) Preventing ageing unequallyGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Thompson OF, Galea ER, Hulse LM (2018) A review of the literature on human behaviour in dwelling fires. Saf Sci 109:303–312. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Nilson F, Bonander C, Jonsson A (2015) Differences in determinants amongst individuals reporting residential fires in sweden: results from a cross-sectional study. Fire Technol 51:615–626. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Warda L, Tenenbein M, Moffatt MEK (1999) House fire injury prevention update. Part I. A review of risk factors for fatal and non-fatal house fire injury. Inj Prev 5:145–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Fire Analysis and Research Division - National Fire Protection Association (2010) Demographic and other characteristics related to fire deaths or injuries. NFPA, Quincy, MAGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Marshall SW, Runyan CW, Bangdiwala SI, Linzer MA, Sacks JJ, Butts JD (1998) Fatal residential fires: Who dies and who survives? J Am Med Assoc 279:1633–1637. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Holborn PG, Nolan PF, Golt J (2003) An analysis of fatal unintentional dwelling fires investigated by London Fire Brigade between 1996 and 2000. Fire Saf J 38:1–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Spearpoint M, Maclennan HA (2012) The effect of an ageing and less fit population on the ability of people to egress buildings. Saf Sci 50:1675–1684. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ronchi E, Nilsson D (2013) Fire evacuation in high-rise buildings: a review of human behaviour and modelling research. Fire Sci Rev. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hasofer AM, Thomas IR (2006) Analysis of fatalities and injuries in building fire statistics. Fire Saf J 41:2–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Flynn JD (2010) Characteristics of home fire victims. NFPA, Quincy, MAGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ahrens M (2014) Characteristics of home fire victims. NFPA, Quincy, MAGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Istre GR, McCoy MA, Osborn L, Barnard JJ, Bolton A (2001) Deaths and injuries from house fires. N Engl J Med 344:1911–1916. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Geiman JA, Gottuk DT (2006) Reducing fire deaths in older adults: optimizing the smoke alarm signal. NFPA, Quincy, MAGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Runyan CW, Bangdiwala SI, Linzer MA, Sacks JJ, Butts JD (1992) Risk factors for fatal residential fires. N Engl J Med 327:859–863. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Jonsson A, Bonander C, Nilson F, Huss F (2017) The state of the residential fire fatality problem in Sweden: epidemiology, risk factors, and event typologies. J Saf Res 62:89–100. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    DiGuiseppi C, Edwards P, Godward C, Roberts I, Wade A (2000) Urban residential fire and flame injuries: a population based study. Inj Prev 6:250–254. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Xiong L, Bruck D, Ball M (2015) Comparative investigation of “survival” and fatality factors in accidental residential fires. Fire Saf J 73:37–47. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Purser DA (2015) Fire safety and evacuation implications from behaviours and hazard development in two fatal care home incidents. Fire Mater 39:430–452. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Echeverría JB, Fernández-Vigil M, Gil B (2018) Dimensionado de las escaleras protegidas en caso de incendio: un reto para los métodos prescriptivos (El modelo del CTE). Informes de la Construcción 70:e258. (in Spanish) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Pérez-Martín JC, Díaz-Díaz R, Santos García R (2010) Método de evaluación del riesgo de incendio en el marco del Código Técnico de la Edificación. DYNA Ingeniería e Industria 85:303–314 (in Spanish) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    MyNews Hemeroteca. Accessed 15 Feb 2019 (in Spanish)
  49. 49.
    Agencia Tributaria (2016) Estadística de los declarantes del IRPF por municipios. Accessed 20 Nov 2018 (in Spanish)
  50. 50.
    Johansson N, van Hees P, Särdqvist S (2012) Combining statistics and case studies to identify and understand deficiencies in fire protection. Fire Technol 48:945–960. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention (2000) Reducing the number of deaths and injuries from residential fires. Pediatrics 105:1355–1357. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Wang F, Lu S, Li C (2005) Analysis of fire statistics of china: fire frequency and fatalities in fires. In: Proceedings of the eighth international symposium on fire safety science. IAFSS, pp 353–362Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Jennings CR (2013) Social and economic characteristics as determinants of residential fire risk in urban neighborhoods: a review of the literature. Fire Saf J 62:13–19. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Jonsson A, Nilson F, Runefors M, Sa¨rdqvist S, Särdqvist S, Nilson F (2016) Fire-related mortality in Sweden: temporal trends 1952 to 2013. Fire Technol 52:1697–1707. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Jennings CR (1999) Socioeconomic characteristics and their relationship to fire incidence: a review of the literature. Fire Technol 35:7–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Hastie C, Searle R (2016) Socio-economic and demographic predictors of accidental dwelling fire rates. Fire Saf J 84:50–56. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Shai D (2006) Income, housing, and fire injuries: a census tract analysis. Public health reports 121:149–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Guldåker N, Hallin P-O (2014) Spatio-temporal patterns of intentional fires, social stress and socio-economic determinants: a case study of Malmö, Sweden. Fire Safety Journal 70:71–80. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    United States Fire Administration (2011) Fire death rate trends: an international perspective. Top Fire Rep Ser 12:1–8Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    San Miguel-Bellod J, González-Martínez P, Sánchez-Ostiz A (2018) The relationship between poverty and indoor temperatures in winter: determinants of cold homes in social housing contexts from the 40 s–80 s in Northern Spain. Energy Build 173:428–442. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Mallonee S, Istre GR, Rosenberg M, Reddish Douglas M, Jordan F, Silverstein P, Tunell W (1996) Surveillance and prevention of residential-fire injuries. N Engl J Med 335:27–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Warda L, Tenenbein M, Moffatt MEK (1999) House fire injury prevention update. Part II. A review of the effectiveness of preventive interventions. Inj Prev 5:217–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Istre GR, McCoy MA, Moore BJ, Roper C, Stephens-Stidham S, Barnard JJ, Carlin DK, Stowe M, Anderson RJ (2014) Preventing deaths and injuries from house fires: an outcome evaluation of a community-based smoke alarm installation programme. Inj Prev 20:97–102. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Ministerio de Fomento (2010) Código Técnico de la Edificación: Documento Básico de Seguridad en caso de incendio (DB SI). Spain (in Spanish) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Building Construction, Services and Structures, School of ArchitectureUniversity of NavarrePamplonaSpain

Personalised recommendations