Made evident by NFPA's Faces of Fire Campaign, home fires are merciless. These events alter--even end--lives. In its wake, burn survivors experience extensive hospital visits and surgeries that can last years. A new study now places a dollar amount on these treatments, and it isn't cheap.
Released earlier this year, the report "Healthcare Costs of Burn Patients From Homes Without Fire Sprinklers" analyzed more than 1,100 adult patients injured in a flame injury at home during a 17-year period and admitted to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's burn unit in Ontario. (During that same period, there were more than 1,550 residential-fire-related deaths in the province.) Per the study, the estimated cost for a burn patient's stay at the hospital was $85,000 Canadian ($64,500 U.S.), with a total cost of more than $96 million Canadian ($72.8 million U.S.). Factor in rehabilitation programs, ambulance services, and property loss, and the total swells to more than $3 billion Canadian ($2.2 billion U.S.).
"The costs we came up with were the costs available to us, but we know it's just the tip of the iceberg," Joanne Banfield, manager of trauma injury prevention at Sunnybrook and one of the study's authors, tells NFPA. "We know the costs are higher than what we see on paper. We can't quantify the pain and suffering and those unknowns for those that survived."
Banfield and the other researchers made a point to underscore home fire sprinklers in the study, calling a targeted strategy for the implementation of these devices in new homes "imperative."
"The fact that we have a solution to this and it's really not an exorbitant cost...that was a lesson for me, and now I feel more empowered to share that fact with whomever I speak with. It almost empowers you to become an ambassador for it."
Phase two of the study is under way and includes personal anecdotes of burn survivors and costs associated with the potential years of life lost from people who have died in home fires. This blog will highlight those findings once they're made available.
Read the full study by downloading it from NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative website.