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Cooking Fires at Home

The Trends

Data from the National Fire Protection Association ( shows that cooking is the leading cause of both fires and the second leading cause of fire deaths in home fire. In 2018 47% of home fires were caused by cooking and 20% of the residential fire deaths were attributed to cooking. This is a significant increase over the trends in 1980.

Source: Fire Safety in the United States since 1980 – Marty Ahrens and Brigitte Messerschmidt – NFPA 2021

Cooking also has impacts on other fire safety features of a home. Nuisance alarms caused by cooking often leads to the disconnection or disabling of residential smoke alarms. The lack of smoke alarms is a key factor in increasing the number of deaths and injuries in a fire.

Source: Fire Safety in the United States since 1980 – Marty Ahrens and Brigitte Messerschmidt – NFPA 2021

Reducing the Cooking Fire Hazard

The good news is that there are actions that should impact this trend. The basic need to prepare food for your family should not be considered a high-risk activity.

The improvements come in the form of changes to product standards. These standards influence the products available in the marketplace. As regulatory agencies adopt these standards, the level of safety will increase.

The first area is a change in electric stoves. A change in the Underwriters Laboratory ( require that surface heating coils have a control to prevent overheating and ignition of cooking oil. This standard was effective in 2014 and required that all units manufactured after 2019 have this control. Given the long life of cooking appliances, the impact of this will be seen in the future.

There are companies offering retrofit burners that meet the UL standard and can be used to replace existing surface coil burners.

The second area is a change in the performance standard for smoke alarms. Smoke alarms will be required in 2022 to demonstrate that they are resistant to nuisance alarms from cooking while still activating promptly for a fire involving upholstered furniture. This is intended to reduce the number of disconnected smoke alarms.

The impacts of this change should be felts quickly as smoke alarms are intended to be replaced after 10 years. We should see 10% replacements and all new smoke alarms meeting this standard starting next year.

Controlling a Cooking Fire

Cooking fires are dangerous and can spread quickly.

  • On the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Visit the National Fire Protection Association website for cooking safety information.

The Driehaus Difference

We look out for information and risk management tools that an protect you and prevent a claim. We have previously discussed the evolving smoke detector installation standards and how that impacts your safety. Insurance is an after the event tool. We want to prevent the loss and help you protect what is most important to you. Call us at 513-977-6860 or contact us on the internet at



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