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State Fire Marshal

NEWS RELEASE

Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
CONTACT:
Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
jennifer.longaecker@state.mn.us
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 04, 2013
50 People Killed by Fire Last Year
Education Plays a Key Role in Reducing Fire Deaths
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The number of people killed last year in fires is down 11 percent from 2011, according to final figures from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD).
 
Fifty people died in fires last year compared to 56 in 2011. The state’s all-time low fire-death figure was 35 in 2009; the high was 134 in 1976.
 
Fire deaths occurred in 38 Minnesota cities in 2012. Fires in Minnetonka, St. Paul and Blue Earth each claimed the lives of two people. St. Paul had the most fire deaths with four, followed by Blue Earth (3) and Minneapolis (3). Balaton, Bloomington, Faribault, Fergus Falls and Minnetonka each had two fire deaths.
 
“We hope for the year when we have no fire fatalities to report. We hope for the day when families don’t have to grieve for members killed prematurely in a preventable fire,” State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. “Most fires are preventable. Minnesotans need to learn how to prevent fires and how to escape them so we can continue to reduce the number of fire fatalities.”
 
Some key findings from the 2012 fire death statistics:
  • Residential buildings continue to be the most dangerous from a fire-and-life safety perspective
    • 23 people died in fires in one- or two-family dwellings
    • 4 people died in multifamily apartment buildings
    • 2 people died in hotels, motels or cabins
    • 18 people died in non-structure fires
  • 23 fire deaths in 2012 were accidental.
  • Half the people who died in fires were between ages 51 and 70
  • 34 percent of fire deaths involved alcohol or drugs 
  • Smoke alarms were not present in seven of the deaths
  • Working alarms were present in three deaths; non-working alarms were present in four deaths 
The SFMD works to reduce fire deaths with emphasis on education and fire prevention, and by promoting the use of protection systems like smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems.
 
“We will continue to use every means available to eliminate preventable fires and fire deaths in Minnesota,” said Becki White, deputy state fire marshal and fire and life safety educator. “This is not just our mission, it’s our passion. Public education is one of our most valuable tools because fire is everyone’s fight.”
 
There have been nine fire deaths between January and April this year compared to 19 during that that time in 2012.
 
Fire safety tips
  • Use electric candles instead of real ones.
  • When using open flames, keep materials at least 18 inches away from the flame. Watch for common materials that you may overlook because they’re always around — oven mitts, curtains, towels, clothing or firewood
  • Have a safe-escape plan for every building you visit, even your own home.
  • Install smoke alarms; typically more smoke alarms are better.
  • Consider protecting your home or business with fire sprinklers
Resources
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property by fostering a fire-safe environment through fire/arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education. Data collected by the State Fire Marshal Division from fire departments statewide is analyzed and used to determine the best methods of public education and enforcement to improve fire safety in our state.
 
State Fire Marshal Division 2011 statistics (2012 statistics will be available later this year):
  • One structure fire was reported in Minnesota every 1.3 hours
  • Cooking, open flames and heating were the top three causes of fire
  • Houses, apartments and other places of residence continue to be the most common places where fires occur. These fires account for the majority of fire dollar loss and fire deaths.
 
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EDITOR’S NOTE: An infographic is available online at: http://ow.ly/lAIdk
 
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov