The Invisible US Fire Problem
Often thought to be a feature of development in rapidly urbanizing Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), the phenomenon of fire among populations living in ‘slum conditions’ is a feature of American cities, and across the spectrum from urban areas to rural areas.
But news headlines seldom tell the stories of people living in these conditions suffering disproportionately from fire. Reframing this issue through a regulatory lens can offer new perspectives – what are the stories of fire in under-regulated buildings and the fire challenges related to homelessness, especially in unregulated and non-sheltered conditions?
This report outlines what we know and do not yet know about the interactions between regulatory blind spots, ambiguous application of existing fire safety regulatory regimes and informality in the US. By defining and framing these matters, this work aims to discover the breadth and depth of research and action needed to understand and ultimately address fire safety issues of insecurely and vulnerably sheltered populations in the US – the invisible US fire problem.