Official reprint from UpToDate®
www.uptodate.com ©2017 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

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 types 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 (US), United Kingdom (UK), 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 the United States (US), Canada, United Kingdom (UK), Australia, and Denmark [5]. These estimated costs include [5,6]:

Capital costs for fire protection of public buildings

To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:

Subscribers log in here

Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: May 15, 2017.
The content on the UpToDate website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. The use of this website is governed by the UpToDate Terms of Use ©2017 UpToDate, Inc.
  1. Forjuoh SN. Burns in low- and middle-income countries: a review of available literature on descriptive epidemiology, risk factors, treatment, and prevention. Burns 2006; 32:529.
  2. Peck MD, Kruger GE, van der Merwe AE, et al. Burns and fires from non-electric domestic appliances in low and middle income countries Part I. The scope of the problem. Burns 2008; 34:303.
  3. World Health Organization. The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 Update. World Health Organization, Geneva 2008 www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/GBD_report_2004update_full.pdf (Accessed on April 02, 2010).
  4. Murray CJL, Lopez, AD. The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020, World Health Organization, Swizerland 2006.
  5. Ashe BSW, McAneney J, Pitman AJ . Total cost of fire in Australia. Journal of Risk Research 2009; 12:121.
  6. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The Economic Costs of Fire: Estimates for 2004 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/fire/pdf/144524.pdf (Accessed on July 28, 2015).
  7. Fire loss in the United States during 2013. NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division, Quincy, Massachusetts. http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fires-in-the-us/overall-fire-problem/fire-loss-in-the-united-states (Accessed on July 20, 2015).
  8. http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/fires-in-the-us/overall-fire-problem/fire-loss-in-the-united-states (Accessed on April 07, 2017).
  9. The economic cost of fire: estimates for 2008. Fire research report 3/2011. DCLG Publications; Department for Communities and Local Government, London, 2011.
  10. Centers for Disease Control. Web-based injury and statistics query and reporting system (WISQARS) 2015 http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/ (Accessed on April 11, 2017).
  11. Kearns RD, Hubble MW, Lord GC, et al. Disaster Planning: Financing a Burn Disaster, Where Do You Turn and What Are Your Options When Your Hospital Has Been Impacted by a Burn Disaster in the United States? J Burn Care Res 2016; 37:197.
  12. http://www.ameriburn.org/2016ABANBR_FINAL_42816.pdf (Accessed on April 11, 2017).
  13. http://www.ameriburn.org/2006NBR.pdf (Accessed on April 14, 2017).
  14. Carey K, Kazis LE, Lee AF, et al. Measuring the cost of care for children with acute burn injury. J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2012; 73:S229.
  15. Alden NE, Bessey PQ, Rabbitts A, et al. Tap water scalds among seniors and the elderly: socio-economics and implications for prevention. Burns 2007; 33:666.
  16. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html (Accessed on May 09, 2017).
  17. American Burn Association. National Burn Repository, Version 5.0 2009. www.ameriburn.org/2009NBRAnnualReport.pdf (Accessed on May 02, 2010).
  18. Shafey O, Eriksen M, Ross H, Mackay J. Costs to the economy. In: The Tobacco Atlas, 3rd ed, American Cancer Society (Ed), American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA 2009. p.42.
  19. Leistikow BN, Martin DC, Milano CE. Fire injuries, disasters, and costs from cigarettes and cigarette lights: a global overview. Prev Med 2000; 31:91.
  20. Gallaher JR, Mjuweni S, Cairns BA, Charles AG. Burn care delivery in a sub-saharan african unit: A cost analysis study. Int J Surg 2015; 19:116.
  21. Thorpe T. Critical cost based analysis of inclusive expense to the South African Government of patients with burn injuries sustained from non-pressurised paraffin stoves. Fincore Financial, South Africa 2004.
  22. http://www.safekids.org/fact-sheet/burns-and-fire-safety-fact-sheet-2015-pdf (Accessed on July 15, 2015).
  23. American Burn Association. National Burn Repository, version 10.0, 2014. http://ameriburn.org/2014NBRAnnualReport.pdf (Accessed on July 15, 2015).
  24. Sahin I, Ozturk S, Alhan D, et al. Cost analysis of acute burn patients treated in a burn centre: the Gulhane experience. Ann Burns Fire Disasters 2011; 24:9.
  25. Takayanagi K, Kawai S, Aoki R. The cost of burn care and implications for efficient care. Clin Perform Qual Health Care 1999; 7:70.
  26. Sanchez JL, Bastida JL, Martínez MM, et al. Socio-economic cost and health-related quality of life of burn victims in Spain. Burns 2008; 34:975.