At a Glance

Give historical fires perspective through modern statistics.

U.S. Fire Administration

The United States Fire Administration is a division within the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It exists specifically to assist in the prevention of and response to fire.

So, what does the USFA website have to do with teaching history? Narrowly speaking, not a great deal. However, the service does provide a statistics page. While the statistics are decidedly recent, remember that what has just happened gives students an excellent frame of reference for "living," that is, really absorbing, historical knowledge by relating it to what they know.

QuickStats offers a few major points on fire injuries, deaths, and losses from 2003 to 2008. Other pages offer information on fire locations (outdoor, residential, etc.), states with the most fire-related deaths, and wildfires.

Try using this information to put past disasters in perspective or even to discuss firefighting methods in the past versus today (particularly great for localized urban histories). An example would be that the number of people who died in the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire ( or the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire) was 4% of the number of civilians killed in fires in 2008 (and more than the total number of firefighters killed in the line of duty). 4% in one fire (essentially like 1 student in a class of 25)!