NCRB, Stories

Data: Between 2014 & 2022, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat Accounted for More Than 50% of All Fire Accidents


The recent fire accident in Rajkot in a temporary Children’s play zone has once again brought to the fore the issue of fire accidents & safety. Data indicates that about 1/5th of fire accidents are still caused by Gas Cylinder/Stove Bursts. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat accounted for more than 50% of all fire accidents between 2014 & 2022.

On 29 May 2024, a devastating fire erupted in a temporary children’s play zone in Rajkot, Gujarat claiming the lives of at least 27 people, including a newlywed couple and four children under 12. This tragedy follows a series of deadly fires in recent years: in 2019, 43 people perished in Delhi’s Anaj Mandi blaze, 17 lost their lives in a fire at Delhi’s Hotel Arpit Palace, and 22, including 18 young girls, died in a coaching centre fire at Takshashila Arcade in Surat.

As cities and towns grow quickly, tall apartment buildings and various industries, like oil, gas, and manufacturing, are popping up everywhere. Fire hazards are no longer limited to big cities and industrial areas. Every day, large amounts of hazardous materials are transported across the country by various means, creating complex challenges for fire rescue teams everywhere.

In today’s story, we look at the trend in fire accidents across the country and the lives lost.

Fire Safety in India

After independence, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs formed an “Expert Committee” in 1950 to address the disorganized and poorly equipped state of fire services. In 1952, the government shared the committee’s recommendations with all State and UT governments, urging them to act.

However, progress was slow, so in 1955, a conference was held with the Chiefs of Fire Services to push for faster implementation. This led to the creation of the Standing Fire Advisory Committee by the Ministry of Home Affairs. In 1980, it was renamed the Standing Fire Advisory Council. Since then, this council has been crucial in improving fire safety management across the nation and representing the collective interests of all State and UT fire services to the Government of India.

Keeping in view of the changing nature of firefighting, the Government of India released a model Bill for the ‘Maintenance of a Fire & Emergency Service for the State’ in 2019. Further, advisories were issued to all state governments by the Directorate General- Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards, urging them to integrate and enforce the updated National Building Code of India 2016 Part – IV “Fire & Life Safety” into their building regulations.

Fire accidents fall to a twenty-five-year low in 2022, and so are fatalities.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) annually releases the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI) reports, which have evolved over time to include more comprehensive data on causative factors. The latest publications offer richer insights compared to earlier versions.

According to the ADSI reports, 2022 saw the lowest number of fire accidents in the past twenty-five years. In 1996, there were 22,788 reported fire accidents, peaking at 27,976 in 1999. Between 1999 and 2014, the average remained steady at around 23,000 fire accidents annually. However, since 2014, there has been a consistent decline, with only 7,566 fire accidents recorded in 2022.

As was the case with a decline in cases, the fatalities also recorded the lowest with 7435 fatalities in 2022, way below the 27561 fatalities in 1996. On average, women comprised 60% of all fatalities, while men comprised the rest.

Gas Cylinder bursts still cause One-Fifth of India’s Fire Accidents

The NCRB identifies four primary factors contributing to fire accidents: Electrical/Short Circuits, Fireworks, Cooking Gas Cylinder/Stove Bursts, and others. Since 2014, incidents related to Riots/agitations have also been reported. Despite these classifications, nearly 60% of fire accidents are still attributed to ‘other factors.’

Gas cylinder bursts emerge as a significant cause, constituting approximately one-fifth of all fire accidents in India on average. In 2022, out of 7,566 cases, 1,567 were attributed to short circuits, closely followed by 1,551 cases due to gas cylinder bursts.

The proportion of fire accidents caused by electrical issues/short circuits rose from 3% in 1996 to 21% in 2022, while those due to gas cylinder bursts declined from 27% to 20% during the same period. Fire accidents caused by fireworks/crackers have remained relatively stable, averaging 2% over the last twenty-five years.

Half of all Fire Accidents occur in Residential Dwellings

The NCRB, from its 2014 report, started providing information on place of occurrence of fire accidents. The data on the occurrence of fire accidents show that on average, almost half of the fire accidents take place in residential dwellings. Out of the 7566 fire accidents in 2022, a total of 4028 accidents took place in residential dwellings, followed by 241 (3%) in commercial buildings.

Three-Fourths of Fire Accidents concentrated in five states over last Eight Years

The state-wise analysis of fire accidents in India reveals that a few states dominate the statistics. Between 2014 and 2022, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu collectively accounted for over 75% of all fire accidents. Madhya Pradesh led the tally with an average of 23%, followed by Maharashtra at 19%, Gujarat at 13%, Karnataka at 12%, and Tamil Nadu at 10%.

While pinpointing the exact causes of this concentration is challenging, factors like industrialization and urbanization likely play significant roles in the high incidence of fire accidents in these states.

India’s Fire Safety measures need a major overhaul

Recent fire incidents, as well as those in the past, have highlighted significant deficiencies in firefighting capabilities. There is an evident absence of systematic assessments of regional risks, despite the varying nature of risks across geographical landscapes such as hilly terrains, coastal areas, deserts, and diverse residential, industrial, and commercial settings. A report by the National Disaster Management Authority in 2012, titled ‘Scaling, Type of Equipment, and Training of Fire Services,‘ highlights grave deficiencies in fire services across India.

Moreover, insufficient institutional capacity and funding present formidable obstacles to enhancing Fire and Emergency Services in the country. The 2012 report on ‘Fire Hazard and Risk Analysis in the Country for Revamping the Fire Services’ underscores the need for substantial investment, estimating a requirement of Rs. 3.8 lakh crore to address gaps in operational capabilities and establish new urban and rural fire stations. In contrast, the government recently initiated the ‘Scheme for Expansion and Modernization of Fire Services in the States’ on 04 July 2023, with a total outlay of Rs. 5,000 crores for the period up to 2025-26.

Given the importance of fire services in India, there is a pressing need to fill the existing gaps in terms of manpower, firefighting and rescue vehicles, and equipment as per the recommendations in the “Fire Hazard and Risk Analysis in the Country for Revamping the Fire Services” report.



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