The newest U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report on house fires shows that 5,100 occurred in clothes dryers in 2012, a 22% drop from the year before.

The decline is welcome, as public safety is the mission of the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a 32-year-old nonprofit based in Plainfield, Indiana. CSIA notes that the true number is under-reported, as many occur inside the machine and self-extinguish, unbenownst to the user.

“The public, by and large, does not understand how important it is to have regular inspections, annually, so that this everyday appliance functions with less risk. The drop from 2011 to 2012 is good news, but we’re not finished,” said Mark A. Stoner, president of CSIA’s national board of directors. Stoner is based in Nashville, Tenn.

CSIA has the only clothes-dryer training program in the industry, with over 300 professionals carrying the C-DET credential — Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician. The C-DET course launched in 2000.

MORE: View CPSC’s PDF of the 2010-12 report posted on its website.

CPSC’s report showed that with clothes dryers, the 5,100 fires in 2012 resulted in 10 deaths, 180 injuries, and an estimated $80.1 million in residential structure fire property loss.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based CPSC culled its report on data obtained from the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association. CPSC staff has been producing estimates of residential fires and related deaths, injuries, and property losses since the early 1980s.

NFPA and CSIA each recommend that all dryer vents should be inspected at least once a year – and it’s the mission of CSIA to foster public awareness of such issues relating to venting performance and safety.

Lint and other debris that build up in clothes dryer vents can also create potentially hazardous conditions including carbon monoxide intrusion and the possibility for exhaust fires, CSIA cautions.

Having established the most-widely recognized national certification programs for the chimney and venting service industry, CSIA strives to eliminate residential chimney fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other chimney- and venting-related hazards that result in the loss of lives and property.

CSIA’s 300 dryer exhaust technicians  can be found using CSIA’s free zip-code locator at or on a new website devoted to consumer awareness,

— Tom Spalding