In the US, cooking is implicated in almost half (46%) of reported home structure fires.[i] Ranges or cooktops, with or without ovens, accounted for the majority (62%) of home fire incidents, most often because the cooktop was left unattended. In the Tenderloin, much of the housing stock is exceedingly small and may not have a proper kitchen (particularly in SROs). Residents may use hotplates or single burners in rooms that are not intended for cooking and may have old wiring or be overcrowded with belongings. Additionally, residents that are elderly or have mental illness may also be more likely to leave their cooktop unattended, thus increasing risk for cooking fires.
When units or whole buildings are damaged by fire, this can lead to displacement of tenants and all of the associated health consequences that may follow. Households that are displaced often experience unhealthy situations due to the loss of social relationships within a community, the difficulties and stress associated with finding new housing that is affordable, as well as, the added time, energy and money needed to relocate.[ii] Frequent household moves have been linked with negative childhood events such as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Frequent family relocation also leads to children repeating grades, school suspensions, and emotional and behavioral problems. Creating opportunities for affordable and safe housing forms a stable and healthy household environment which has long-term positive health implications, particularly for children.
Between 2011-2019 there were at least 3-7 times as many cooking related residential fires in the CMTL boundary than there were in the city as a whole. There was a 80% increase in cooking fires in the CMTL area between 2011 and 2015 which was followed by a 34% decrease between 2015 and 2019. Meanwhile, rates in the city remained relatively constant. Citywide the rate of cooking fires in SROs is much higher than the rate for all units; however, in the CMTL, the rate is lower in SROs.
SF Fire Department, 2011-2019. Available here: https://data.sfgov.org/Public-Safety/Fire-Incidents/wr8u-xric.
* The following criteria were used to define cooking fires: the property use was residential and one of the following - the primary situation was listed as "113 - cooking fire, confined to container," OR "100 - fire, other" AND the area of fire origin was "24 - cooking area, kitchen" OR the primary situation was "111 - building fire" AND the area of fire origin was "24 - cooking area, kitchen."
[i] National Fire Protection Association. Home fires involving cooking equipment. Available at: http://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Fire-…
[ii] San Francisco Department of Public Health. “No-Fault Evictions.” The San Francisco Indicator Project, 2014. http://www.sfindicatorproject.org/indicators/view/194.