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The Importance of Accurate Property Loss Reporting

  • Posted on August 11, 2023

In 2022, 80% of all fires reported took place on residential properties. Since these fires accounted for the vast majority of fire calls and a total estimated property loss of over a billion dollars (with an additional $270 million in estimated content loss), ESO decided to take a deeper dive into the data to find out areas of improvement.  

A need for improvement

ESO’s analysis has shown that the total estimated value of these properties was 5x greater than the total estimated recorded value of loss, which means that there are major discrepancies when it comes to accurate reporting. While that is a staggering difference, there’s an opportunity for improvement in documentation, especially considering that 18% of property loss and 27% of content loss were recorded indicating “null” or “zero.” 

Why recording loss is so important

Assessing the full impact of fire devastation can help departments in a variety of ways. First, it’s vital to understanding the severity of a fire and the impact it leaves behind. Not only does this give important data, but it also allows the industry to create benchmarks for progress in fire protection. Even more importantly, by showing losses compared to the property’s total value, it can give tangible data that shows how much departments were able to save and how much they are put in place to protect, further reinforcing their importance to their communities.  

Increasing accuracy

So, what can you do to more accurately record loss? The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends using the International Code Council (ICC) Building Valuation Data (BVD) formula to help fire departments determine dollar loss. The BVD helps provide the “average” construction cost per square foot. You can also increase accuracy by using NFPA recommended calculation steps or visiting your local tax assessor’s website.

For more fire insights and best practices that can benefit your firefighters, check out the ESO Fire Index today. 

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