The 1997 U.S. death toll attributed to fires fell by 18.8 percent (4,050 fatalities), according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This decrease follows a two-year increase, although NFPA cautions that such dips have occurred in the past, only to be reversed a year later. "Our hope is that this year's reduction will be sustained, but that remains to be seen," says Dr. John Hall, NFPA's assistant vice president of fire analysis and research.