Firefighters say newer homes are burning faster

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 5:12 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Bismarck Fire Department has responded to five significant structure fires in the past month. Two were commercial buildings, and the other three were residential properties.

Firefighters say that newer homes are more likely to flame out faster than older ones because of the materials used to build and furnish them.

”The material of the furniture. The synthetic material which is petroleum based. Burns hotter, faster and reaches flashover a lot sooner than the legacy furniture which is made of solid wood, typically cotton coverings,” said Bismarck Fire Dept. Deputy Fire Marshal Adam Miller.

Newer homes also are more susceptible to faster fires due to their open floor plans.

“The flame spread can be a lot quicker because there is a lot more oxygen in a bigger house versus one little, tiny room. So, yes, there are situations where you can find a lot more damage in a newer home versus an older home in terms of a fire loss,” said Arrow Service Team Co-Owner Chad Leier.

The Underwriters Laboratories Fire Safety Research Institute reports new builds burn 50% faster, and the fires are bigger than they were 50 years ago.

”UL did a study with synthetic furniture from inception to beginning stages to flash over, you got about four minutes fifty seconds before that time flashes. With the legacy furniture, it will last about 30 minutes before flash over. So, there is a huge difference in time,” said Miller.

Miller said having an evacuation plan, closing bedroom doors when you sleep and having smoke alarms inside and outside of bedrooms are good practices to give you time to get out if there is a fire.