NFPA gets grant to study cooking fires

Cooking equipment-related fires are the leading cause of U. S. fire loss, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

During the five-year-period of 2006-2010, cooking equipment was involved in an average of 157,300 reported home structure fires, with associated losses of 380 civilian deaths, 4,920 civilian injuries and $794 million in direct property damage per year.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation), an affiliate of NFPA, with a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is addressing this concern. Through the remainder of 2012 and throughout 2013, the foundation will support a research project—Development of Standard Cooking Fire Scenarios and Candidate Test Methods for Evaluating Cooking Fire Mitigation Technologies—to examine three main areas of cooking-related fires, and develop an action plan towards improving overall cooking fire safety. The project will focus on the development of the means for implementing prevention technologies that are suitable for use on or with home cooking appliances. The three categories of cooking-related fires to be studied are fires starting in a pot or pan on a burner; fires due to food spillage onto a burner; and products such as utensils, oven mitts and other items that catch fire on or near a burner.

Since the 1980s, NIST, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the home appliance industry have undertaken a series of comprehensive strategy reviews to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and property losses from cooking fires. In February 2010, a Vision 20/20 workshop was held on this topic, which resulted in a foundation study, Home Cooking Fire Mitigation: Technology Assessment. The study, also supported by NIST, was aimed at developing an initial action plan to assess the performance of home-cooking safety technologies.

The latest grant-funded research project report is slated for completion by the end of 2013, and will be made available through the foundation’s Web site.

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