The geographic and demographic distribution of residential fires, related injuries, and deaths in four Canadian provinces



A considerable number of Canadians are injured or killed every year as a result of residential fires. Until recently, the absence of representative national data limited our understanding of the current situation. This study used a novel dataset to describe the geographic and demographic distribution of residential fires and related casualties across 4 Canadian provinces and to explore changes over time.


A cross-sectional study design was applied to data from the National Fire Information Database, which reported fire incidents, locations, and associated casualties attended by a fire service across 4 Canadian provinces between 2005 and 2015. Residential fire incident, injury, and death rates were described and compared between sex and age groups. Simple linear regressions were used to assess the trends of casualty rates per population and per fire incidents over time.


A total of 145,252 residential fires were reported for the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, of which 5.5% resulted in casualties. Death and severe injury rates per population decreased significantly between 2005 and 2015, while casualties per 1000 house fires did not change. Death rates per house fire incidents were generally higher in urban than in remote areas but tended to increase as distance from city centres increased and moved closer to suburban areas. Injury rates were higher than death rates for all age groups and significantly higher for males than for females.


These findings represent an important step forward in identifying the most vulnerable municipalities and populations to inform evidence-based cross-provincial efforts to reduce the societal burden of residential fires.



Plusieurs Canadiens sont blessés ou tués chaque année des suites de feux résidentiels. Cette étude utilise de récentes données pour décrire la distribution géographique et démographique des feux résidentiels et des blessures associées, ainsi que leur évolution dans le temps dans quatre provinces canadiennes.


Une étude transversale a été utilisée sur la base de données National Fire, rapportant l’incidence, la localisation et les blessures liées aux feux maitrisés par les services d’incendie de 4 provinces canadiennes entre 2005 et 2015. Les taux de feux résidentiels, de blessures et de mortalité ont été décrits et comparés par sexe et groupes d’âge et examinés dans le temps en utilisant des régressions linéaires simples.


Un total de 145 252 feux résidentiels ont été rapportés dans les provinces de Colombie-Britannique, Alberta, Manitoba et Ontario, et 5,5 % ont engendré des blessures. Les taux de mortalité et blessures sévères par population ont diminué significativement entre 2005 et 2015, alors que les taux de blessures par 1000 feux résidentiels n’ont pas changé. Les taux de mortalité par incidence de feux étaient généralement plus élevés dans les environnements urbains que ruraux, mais augmentaient en s’éloignant des centres urbains vers les banlieues. Les taux de blessures étaient plus élevés que les taux de mortalité pour tous les groupes d’âge, et significativement plus élevés chez les hommes que chez les femmes.


En identifiant les populations et municipalités les plus vulnérables aux feux résidentiels, cette étude contribue à informer des initiatives interprovinciales basées sur l’évidence pour réduire les conséquences des feux résidentiels.

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The authors thank M. Frederick Lafrance, who provided insight and support for the analysis and presentation of geographic data and maps.

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Correspondence to Emilie Beaulieu.

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Beaulieu, E., Smith, J., Zheng, A. et al. The geographic and demographic distribution of residential fires, related injuries, and deaths in four Canadian provinces. Can J Public Health 111, 107–116 (2020).

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  • Residential fires
  • Injury
  • Death
  • National Fire Information Database
  • Geographic information system (GIS)
  • Census subdivisions


  • Feux résidentiels
  • Blessure
  • Décès
  • Base de données de la National Fire
  • Système d’information géographique (SIG)
  • Subdivision de recensement