Detroit EMS receives high number of burn calls associated with structure fires

From January 1, 2010 to August 26, 2012 there were about 400 calls received by the Detroit EMS related burns associated with structure fires. In that same time there were only 15 calls related to electrical fire burns.

This post exams the distribution and frequency to which Detroit EMS responded to burn related calls. In addition to showing the overall frequency and distribution of burn related EMS calls, this post also breaks down the calls by the following types:

•Burns related to structure fires: 394 calls
•Small Burns: 262 calls
•An adult with over 18 percent of his or her body covered in burns: 219 calls
•A child with over 10 percent of his or her body covered in burns: 94 calls
•Burns where a person was not alert: 56 calls
•A person with burns and difficulty breathing: 35 calls
•Burns related to electrical fires: 15 calls

This information was obtained and analyzed as part of the ongoing efforts of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative-Detroit . While these calls presented in this post are not mutually exclusive, each call in the time frame presented was assigned to one of the above categories.

While this information was made available for GHHI purposes, the City of Detroit only publically presents information related to the number of fire calls responded to by the City of Detroit Fire Department for 2006 on their website. According to that data, in 2006 the fire department responded to 33,441 fires and 131,481 medical emergencies. According to the same website, there was an average of 47 people in the city who die each year from residential fire deaths.

The above map shows, by Census tract data, where Detroit EMS assisted burn victims, and the frequency at which they assisted, from January 10, 2010 to August 26, 2012. During this period, there were 1,075 burn calls throughout the city. While much of the City of Detroit was in the mid to low range (2-5 calls per Census tract) for the frequency of burn calls, there were several pockets that had high numbers of EMS calls, according to the legend. The dark green areas have the highest frequency of calls; these areas range from 9 to 12 calls. For the highest frequency areas there is no trend associated with where they are located in the city; there were 11 Census tract locations in the high frequency range. There was however a diagonal string of Census tract areas in the central/ south-central area of the city that had between 6 and 9 EMS burn calls from January 2010 to August 2012.

There were 21 Census tract locations where zero burn related calls were made to the Detroit EMS in this time frame; some of these locations include Palmer Park, Rouge Golf Course, Eliza Howell Park, and Belle Isle; all of which are parks/recreation areas in the city.

This map provides a different picture on where Detroit EMS responded to burn related situations. As mentioned above there is no trend to where the high frequency areas are located in the city, and areas with between 2 to 5 calls seemed to dominate the city.

The above seven maps are a breakdown of the EMS burn calls,  by dispatcher-assigned category, within the City of Detroit. Of the 1,075 total burn calls during this time, 394 were categorized as related to structure fires. The second highest frequency category was small burn related calls.

There were 15 calls to Detroit EMS between January 1, 2010 to August 26, 2012 for burns related to electrical fires, 35 calls related to a person having burns and difficulty breathing, and 56 where a person was burned and not alert. There were far fewer EMS calls in those three categories than EMS calls related to burns and structure fires (394), small burns (262) and children (94) and adults (219) with burns that covered a certain portion of their body.

When the total number of burn related calls were broken down in the seven categories the maps showed there were no clear geographic trends of concentration in certain areas of the city, per category.

Mortality rates for Detroit and Michigan


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the mortality rate is defined as “a measure of the frequency of occurrence of death among a defined population during a specified time interval.” The above chart shows the mortality rates from 2010 for each of the seven counties that make up Southeastern Michigan. Of these counties, St. Clair County had the highest mortality rate in 2010 at 1,007.1 per 100,000 residents; Wayne County had the second highest rate at 985.2. Washtenaw County had the lowest rate at 581.2.


The above chart shows the mortality rates for the City of Detroit, the State of Michigan, and the United States. The rates from Michigan and the United States cover the time span of 1970 to 2010, while the rate for the City of Detroit only covers 1990 to 2010, the only years for which this data was available.

As can be seen, the mortality rate in the City of Detroit remained higher than the rates in Michigan and the United States from 1990 to 2010. The mortality rate in Detroit had a decreasing trend from 1995 to 1997. In 1997, the mortality rate was 9.9 per 1,000 residents, and in 1998 it increased to 10.1. Since then, the mortality rate in the city has ranged from 10.2 to 10.8. In 2010, it was recorded at 10.5.

For Michigan and the United States, the mortality rate trends over time are much smoother.  Although they were declining from 1972 to 1979, the rates increased in 1980 and remained fairly constant until 2001. From 2001 to 2010, the mortality rate for the United States began to decline while the rate in Michigan began to increase. In 2010, Michigan’s mortality rate was 8.9 per 1,000 residents, and the rate in the United States was 8.


In 2010, the mortality rate, per 100,000 residents, in the City of Detroit was highest for those individuals 85-years-old and older; it was recorded at 13,081.2. The age bracket for individuals 75-84 years old had the second highest rate at 5,710.9. The age bracket with the lowest rate was 1 to 14-year-olds with a rate of 31.7. There was a gradual progression of increasing rates as the age groups became older, with the exception of the under 1 year old age group. For this group, there was a mortality rate of 1,423.2 per 100,000 residents in 2010. For more information on infant mortality rates, please see our previous post here.


The above chart shows that in 2010, the mortality rate for males was consistently higher than the rate for females in every age category in the City of Detroit. For example, in the 85 and over age group, the mortality rate for males was 14,350 per 100,000 residents,  while the mortality rate for females was 12,506.


The above chart shows the top 10 leading causes of death for Detroit and Michigan residents in 2010, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. Heart disease had the highest mortality rate per 100,000 residents for both the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan. However, that rate was 80 deaths per 100,000 residents higher in Detroit (316) than the state (236).


The above slide shows the death rate for each one of the counties that make of Southeastern Michigan for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for all the above counties. Wayne County has the highest rate at 988.1. St. Clair County has the second highest rate 296.8. The rate for St. Clair County is closer to Washtenaw County’s rate of 138.2, which is the lowest of the seven counties, than it is to Wayne County.

In an upcoming post we will explore how the top 10 leading causes of death for each county in Southeastern Michigan and how they have changed over time.