The first fire extinguisher ever produced was patented by Ambrose Godfrey in England in 1723. It contained a liquid which could extinguish a fire, along with a pewter chamber which contained gunpowder to use as an accelerant.
What we think of as a modern fire extinguisher was first developed in 1818 by Captain George William Manby. It contained 3 gallons of potassium carbonate solution within compressed air. Over the next century, fire extinguishers based on chemical foam, soda acid, and water-based solutions would also be developed.
There are several different types of fire extinguishers which are sold by the industry today. The three primary extinguishes that the average home or business uses are Class A, Class B, and Class C extinguishers. These fire extinguishers can be purchased independently, by class, or they can be purchased as a combined Class ABC-type fire extinguisher.
Important Fire Extinguisher Industry Statistics
#1. The fire extinguisher manufacturing sector in the United States is a small, valuable component of the economy. Just 23 firms are currently active in the manufacturing process, employing about 1,300 people. In total, however, these firms produce about $1 billion in annual revenues. (IBIS World)
#2. For the 5-year period which ended in 2017, revenues were mostly stable for the fire extinguisher industry in the United States, achieving annualized growth of 0.2%. (IBIS World)
#3. From 2011-2015, fire departments in the United States responded to about 38,000 fires at manufacturing or industrial properties each year. The annual losses from those fires included more than 270 injuries and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. (National Fire Protection Association)
#4. Structure fires account for 20% of municipal fire department calls and are responsible for 49% of deaths that are associated with fires. (National Fire Protection Association)
#5. The most popular type of fire extinguisher sold by the industry today is the Class A extinguisher, which accounts for 41.8% of total sales. In total volume, more than 18.8 million Class A fire extinguishers are sold globally each year. (Future Insight Markets)
#6. For the 10-year period ending in 2027, the CAGR of the Class A fire extinguisher segment is expected to grow by 5.7% in volume. If achieved, that would allow the industry to sell over 34.7 million units. (Future Insight Markets
#7. Fire protection systems are one of the most valuable segments of the overall fire control industry. In 2016, the global market for fire protection systems was valued at $52.19 billion. (Markets and Markets)
#8. In 2015, there were 1.34 million fires reported in the United States. That meant a fire department responded to a call once every 23 seconds, on average. Almost half of these fires were classified as an outdoor fire. (Harrington Group)
#9. Fire extinguishers can effectively put out 80% of all fires, even if the extinguisher is classified as a portable unit. When a fire extinguisher is used on a fire in the United States, 75% of the time, the fire department is not required to attend the incident. (EnGauge Inc.)
#10. Data in Europe on fire extinguisher use is similar to data generated in the United States. In 2,600 tracked incidents, 81.5% of incidents with a portable fire extinguisher resulted in a fire being extinguished. In 74.6% of the incidents, the fire department was not required. (EnGauge Inc.)
#11. In 60% of all fire incidents which occur, the fire department is never notified if a fire extinguisher is present and accessible. Almost 2 million fires are handled entirely by a fire extinguisher in the U.S. every year. (EnGauge Inc.)
#12. Another 147,000 fires within commercial structures are handled through the use of a fire extinguisher annually without the fire department being notified. (EnGauge Inc.)
#13. The amount of estimated savings that the fire extinguisher industry is able to achieve in the United States from structure fire incidents is about $5 billion. In total, more than 5.3 million fires occurred where a fire extinguisher was the only needed form of suppression. (EnGauge Inc.)
#14. The number of fires reported in the U.S. in 2015 is down 19.1% from the number of fires reported in 2006. (United States Fire Administration)
#15. The number of deaths reported because of a fire are down 3% in 2015 from figures reported in 2006. (United States Fire Administration)
#16. Total losses from fire-related incidents in the U.S. totaled $14.3 billion in 2015. That figure is down more than 20% from figures released in 2006. United States Fire Administration)
#17. More than half of all residential building fires, over 380,000 in the U.S., are attributed to cooking. About 11% are attributed to heating, while another 6.4% are attributed to an electrical device malfunctioning. (United States Fire Administration)
#18. Cooking is also the primary cause of non-residential building fires, accounting for 29.5% of tracked incidents. (United States Fire Administration)
#19. 41% of the fires which are reported in the United States are classified as an outdoor fire. 30.4% of reported incidents involve a residential property. 14.5% of fire incidents are related to issues that involve a vehicle. (United States Fire Administration)
#20. About 40% of people in the 85+ age demographic are killed when caught in a fire, which is 4x higher than the national fire death rate in the United States. (United States Fire Administration)
#21. About 1.1 million firefighters are currently active in the United States, with 67% of fire departments operating on an all-volunteer basis. (United States Fire Administration)
Fire Extinguisher Industry Trends and Analysis
As long as there are structures, there will be a risk of fire. To mitigate that risk, the production of fire extinguishers will be necessary. That means there will be a consistent place for this industry in the developed world.
Fire extinguishers are a stable industry because the extinguishers are given expiration dates. Every year, there is a certain number of fire extinguishers which must be replaced because of local, national, or international building codes, laws, and regulations. That provides enough foundation for work that keeps the current industry active, though it does prohibit expansion on any type of scale.
Additional opportunities for the industry, through fire suppression systems and other types of proactive fire management, do offer the potential for industry growth. When combined with the extinguisher segment, there will continue to be opportunities for this industry for some time to come.
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