It is hard to overstate the importance of proper cleaning and maintenance of clothes dryers and their vents. Their contribution to single and two-family “residential building fires” has been dramatically reduced since the USFA’s 2009 report brought its importance to everyone’s attention. While most homeowners are now much more attentive to their clothes dryers, the NFA’s most recent report is still alarming to fire safety professionals.

US Fire Administration - Indianapolis IN - The Mad Hatter

The Numbers Are Down, Impressively!

In its August, 2012 report, the U.S. Fire Administration indicates that dryer-caused structure fires have dropped from around 15,000 to roughly 3,000 per year in residential structures. That is fantastic news! – and it offers proof of the difference that proper attention to dryer vents can make. However, as a percentage of identified fire-sources, dryers and their vents are still the cause of reported fires in way too many single-family houses.

…Which Underscores the Important Difference.

Clothes dryers are now the cause of less than a fifth (17%) of fires in multi-family residential buildings. Those are dryers and vents which typically get regularly scheduled and more frequent maintenance than the ones in the average ‘single family’ dwelling. In ‘SFD’s, however, dryers and their vents are still the arsonist in roughly three-fourths (77%) of all house fires.

That is the news we are not very happy to see! It means that a huge percentage of single and two-family house fires could have been prevented with professional cleaning and maintenance. ‘SFDs’ — single family dryers — and their vents – are not keeping pace with multi-family residential buildings. It is impossible NOT to conclude that individually owned dryers and venting are still not getting enough professional attention.

This is perhaps because the setting of and compliance with standards to be met in dryer vent cleanings and repairs is voluntary. It means that, ultimately, it is up to you to decide who repairs your dryer vent and to which standards. It may, however, be helpful to know that the CSIA certifies some chimney sweeps as “Dryer Vent Technicians” trained and educated to meet fire safety standards.