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Global costs of fires and burns

Michael D Peck, MD, ScD, FACS
Section Editor
Marc G Jeschke, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Collins, MD, PhD, FACS


Burn injuries are one of the most devastating of all injuries and a major global public health concern [1-4]. This topic reviews the economic burden of burn injuries.


The global costs of fires are an estimate of the cost of anticipation, cost of response, and cost as a consequence of fires [5-7]. The global costs associated with loss of human life and property from burns are estimates at best, based on hospital care charges, destruction of property, loss of human life, disabilities and loss of potential income, and costs to the criminal justice system in cases of arson, neglect and assault [6].

It is estimated that the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Denmark spend 0.9 to 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on costs related to fires (table 1). The US and Australia allocate the greatest resources to cost of anticipation, cost of response and cost as a consequence, in that order. The UK, Canada and Denmark allocate resources to cost in anticipation, cost as a consequence and cost of response, in that order [5]. Ninety-three percent of the cost of a fire is not associated with direct costs.

Cost of anticipation — Costs in anticipation refer to the costs of protection from fire and prevention measures taken to prevent or mitigate the damage caused by fires. Approximately 48 to 55 percent of the total fire expenditures are associated with cost in anticipation for high-income countries such as US, Canada, UK, Australia and Denmark [5]. These estimated costs include [5,6]:

Capital costs for fire protection of public buildings


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jul 27, 2015.
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