Factors contributing to survival and evacuation in residential fires involving older adults in Sweden

Marcus Runefors, Anders Jonsson, Carl Bonander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been known for a long time that older adults suffer a significantly higher risk of dying in residential fires compared to younger people. The characteristics of these fatal fires and the fatalities are also well known. However, less is known about older adults who survive fires and how they differ from those who die. This distinction can be assumed to be of great importance when designing effective prevention efforts. In the current paper, factors that contribute to survival of older adults (65+) has been investigated together with factors that contribute to different modes of evacuation (e.g. evacuation assisted by neighbours) based, primarily, on incident reports. The results show that fewer than half of the victims (39%) evacuated independently and many rely on evacuation assisted by neighbours (18%), first-responders (27%) or homecare personnel (8%). Living in urban areas was found to increase the odds of survival. Based on the results from the analysis of evacuation, this is likely due to a combination of proximity to neighbours and a short response time. For successful evacuation by non-firefighters, the fires often had to be confined to the object of ignition while the rescue service could evacuate from larger fires.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103354
JournalFire Safety Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Civil Engineering

Free keywords

  • Evacuation
  • Fire fatality
  • Non-fatal fire injury
  • Rescue services
  • Residential fires


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