Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Residential Fire Fatalities: Children, Adults, Seniors

Ontario Residential Fire Fatalities
Children, Adults, Seniors

The information in this report is for Ontario Residential fatal fires during the ten year period from 2009 to 2018

Data Source: The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) investigates fatal fires in Ontario.

Revised: Feb. 2020.

2009-2018 Residential Fire Fatalities by Age Group

When we look at the age of victims we see:

  • 3% of the victims were between the ages of 0 to 9,
  • 4% were between ages 10 to 19,
  • 5% 20 to 29,
  • 9% 30 to 39,
  • 12% 40 to 49,
  • 19% 50 to 59,
  • 17% 60 to 69,
  • 17% 70 to 79,
  • 11% 80 to 89,
  • 3% 90 or older.

(Excludes fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties)

2009-2018 Residential Fire Fatalities by Age Group

2009-2018 Residential Fire fatalities: Victims by Age Group
(Children, Adults, Seniors)

From 2009 to 2018:

  • 39% of fire fatalities were in the 65+ age group,
  • 57% were ages 16 to 64 and
  • 4% were ages 0 to 15.

(Excludes fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties)

2009-2018 Residential Fire fatalities: Victims by Age Group (Children, Adults, Seniors)

Fire Death Rate by Age of Victim

The residential fire death rate is the number of residential fire fatalities per million population.

Looking at age groups – Seniors 65+ are at a higher risk than other age groups, this group has a higher death rate than the other age groups (65+ population was about the same as population for the 0-15 age group and almost 4 times smaller than population for the 16-64 age group in 2018).

There have been changes in the death rates from earlier studies. The fire death rate in seniors increased to 33 per million population in 1997. Since then the death rate for seniors has been going down.

In 2018, the residential fire death rate for Seniors 65+ was 15 per million population (in 2018, senior population was 2.4million, and 35 seniors died in residential fires).

For Adults, ages 16 to 64, the rate was  4 per million population (2018, adult population 9.5mil., 39 deaths).

For Youths, ages 0 to 15, the rate was 2 per million population (2018, youth population 2.4mil., 4 deaths).

Excludes fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties.

Population source: Statistics Canada Table 17-10-0005-01.

Fire Death Rate by Age of Victim

2009-2018: Fire fatalities Age 65+

Fire fatalities aged 65+ more frequently died in fires starting during the day in the living area by lit cigarettes or other smokers' materials igniting upholstered furniture or clothing.

The victim is likely to be disabled.

Total fatalities:  283 from 2009 to 2018, average 28 per year.

Time of day: 39% in fires between 8am to 4pm.

Area of origin: 35% living area.

Ignition sources: Cigarettes 25%, cooking equipment 10%.

Object first ignited:  Furniture/rugs 18%.

Physical condition: 24% of victims had an ambulatory or other disability (33% Normal).

(Excludes fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties)

2009-2018: Fire fatalities Age 65+

2009-2018:  65+ Age groups

Within the 65+ age group:

  • Ages 65-69, is 22%
  • Ages 70-79, 44%
  • Ages 80-89, 27%
  • Ages 90+, 7%.

Furniture/bedding or clothing ignited by smokers' materials or cooking equipment are also fatal combinations for seniors.


What’s different about fires involving victims age 65+?

  • The largest percentage of fire deaths were in the 70-79 age group.
  • More incidents where furniture ignited by smokers materials.
  • More victims physically disabled.

2009-2018:  65+ Age groups

2009-2018: Fire fatalities Age 16 to 64

Fire fatalities aged 16 to 64 more frequently died in fires starting during the night in the living area in fires started by lit cigarettes or other smoker’s materials igniting upholstered furniture or intentionally set fires.

Some victims were impaired by alcohol/drugs.

Total fatalities:  408 from 2009 to 2018, average 41 per year.

Time of day: 46% in fires between midnight and 8 am.

Area of origin: 33% Living area.

Ignition sources: Cigarettes 28%, Cooking equipment 10%.

Cause: 19% of the fires started by Arson (includes homicides and suicides).

Object first ignited:  Furniture/rugs 15%, Bedding/mattress/pillow 12%.

Physical condition: 19% of victims were impaired - the majority by alcohol, a small percentage by drugs.

(Excludes fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties)

2009-2018: Fire fatalities Age 16 to 64

2009-2018: 16 to 64 Age groups

Within the 16 to 64 age group:

  • Ages 16 to 19 is 6%
  • Ages 20-29, 9%
  • Ages 30-39, 16%
  • Ages 40-49, 21%
  • Ages 50-59, 33%
  • Ages 60 to 64 is 15%.

What’s different about fires involving victims aged 16 to 64?

  • The largest percentage of fire deaths were in the 50-59 age group
  • 19% of victims were impaired (alcohol or drugs) – The highest incidence of impairment was:  40 to 49 age group
  • Like seniors, the #1 ignition source was smoking articles. 

2009-2018: 16 to 64 Age groups

2009-2018: Fire fatalities Age 0 to 15

Fire fatalities aged 0 to 15 more frequently die in fires starting during the night in the kitchen/cooking area.

29% of the victims were reported as asleep at the time of the fire and an additional 18% were infants too young to act (under age 5).

In most of these fires the victim was not responsible for the ignition, however in 4% of these fires a child used matches/lighters to start the fire.

Total fatalities: 28 from 2009 to 2018, average 3 per year.

Time of day:  57% in fires between midnight and 8 am.

Area of origin:  36% Kitchen/cooking area.

Ignition sources:  25% Cooking, 18% cigarettes.

Cause:  4% of the fires started by Children (age 11 and younger), 11% by Arson.

Object first ignited:  Furniture/rugs 25%, Cooking oil/ grease 25%.

Physical condition: 29% of victims asleep, 18% were infants 0 to 4 – too young to act.

(Excludes fire deaths on First Nations and Federal properties)

2009-2018: Fire fatalities Age 0 to 15

2009-2018: 0 to 15 Age groups

68% of victims in the 0 to 15 age group were between the ages of 0 and 9;

32% of the fatalities in the 0 to 15 age group were ages 10 to 15.

What’s different about fires involving victims aged 0 to 15?

  • 29% of young victims were reported to be asleep at the time of the fire, 18% were aged 0 to 4 - too young to act
  • 4% of youth fatalities were in fires started by children.

2009-2018: 0 to 15 Age groups