According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), 51,000 home electrical fires are reported each year. This results in almost 500 deaths, more than 14,000 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage. Smoke alarms are considered to be the most effective equipment to safeguard lives during fire incidents. Apart from preventing the spread of fires, the smoke alarm systems also attract discounts from insurers on homeowners’ insurance. vHomeInsurance analyzed the household electrical fire incidents that happened from 2014 through 2016 to understand the impact of smoke alarms with respect to alerting household residents.


The U.S Fire Administration reported a total of 24,000 household fires  during the course of 2014 to 2016. Out of the total number of incidents, the occupants responded to the smoke alarm in only 37.6% of them. The occupants were able to take sufficient measures in protecting their valuable belongings and safeguarding their lives. Moreover, smoke alarms only get triggered if the fire is considerably large. In 21.7% of the incidents, the fire was too small to trigger an alarm. The officials were unable to determine whether the smoke alarm was functional in 15.4% of the incidents.

The smoke alarm failed to operate due to malfunction in 13.7% of the fire incidents. Furthermore, the smoke alarm failed to alert the occupants, and the occupants failed to respond to the alarm in 1.6% and 1.3% of the incidents, respectively. There were no occupants in the household during 7.3% of the fire incidents. Overall, the smoke alarms failed in its sole purpose of detecting fire in 52% of the electric fire incidents.