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Cooking Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) “cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries.  In 2005, cooking equipment was involved in 146,400 reported home structure fires, the largest share for any major cause. These fires resulted in 480 civilian deaths, 4,690 civilian injuries, and $876 million in direct property damage.

It can’t happen to me…

On October 4, 2008 Monroe Fire Company responded to an automatic fire alarm in the township that was set off due to unattended cooking.  In this case, the homeowner left the house while a burner was on and a pot was on the burner.  The food in the pot began to burn and filled the house with smoke.  In this instance, the homeowner was lucky enough to have a functioning fire alarm system which alerted the fire department to the smoke.  Had there not been a fire alarm, flames would have likely spread to nearby paper materials next to the stove and spread to the rest of the house.

According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) “the leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.”

How can I prevent a cooking fire?

When cooking in the kitchen or outdoors, you always want to remain attentive and alert.  The USFA also recommends the following:

  • Never leave the kitchen if you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.  If you need to leave, turn off the appliance you are using.
  • Regularly check on food which is simmering, baking, or roasting. 
  • Use a timer to remind yourself you are cooking.
  • Keep your stovetop, oven, and burners clean.  Keep items such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and/or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels away from sources of heat.
  • Wear short or close fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Always use cooking appliances properly.
  • Use only those cooking appliances which have been tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
  • Follow manufactuers’ code and instructions when installing and operating cooking appliances.
  • Plug electonic cooking appliances, such as microwaves and toaster ovens directly into an electrical socket.  Using an extension cord may cause an overload and result in a fire.


Take a few moments to review the following videos from the USFA to help prevent home cooking fires:

Keep Things Away from Heat

Keep Kids Away from Cooking Areas

Prevent Scalds and Burns

Watch What you Heat

Know What to do if There is a Fire

For more information about cookig fires and how to prevent them, check out the NFPA’s Cooking Fire Report or contact us or your local fire department.