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State Fire Marshal


Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
February 19, 2014
A Few Moments Now Can Prevent Tragedy Later
Following Recent Fire-Related Fatalities, Fire Marshal Urges Families to Talk Fire Prevention
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A few moments. That’s all it takes to make sure fire does not destroy property, or worse, take a life. 

Following several recent fire-related deaths, State Fire Marshal Bruce West reminds Minnesotans that most fires can be prevented.

“Every fire death is tragic, but loss of life is often avoidable,” West said. “Taking just five minutes to talk with your family can make a big difference and could save lives.”
West recommends taking a few moments to make sure disaster doesn’t strike with several important fire prevention strategies: 
  • Check the batteries in every smoke alarm.
  • Make sure nobody falls asleep with a space heater on.
  • Talk about fire escape plans with everyone in the home, especially children. 
  • Discuss with kids what they should do if they see or smell smoke.

Home heating safety  

People often turn to alternative heat sources to stay warm when the temperature plummets. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) reminds residents to use caution around alternative heating sources like space heaters, liquid-fueled and gas-burning heaters, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.

  • Place any portable heating device at least three feet away from combustibles.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. 
  • Turn portable heaters off before you leave home and before bed. 
  • Make sure all cords are in good shape. If a cord or outlet feels hot, turn it off. 
  • Do not warm clothing over a portable heater.

Prepare your family for fast escape from a fire

  • Draw a diagram of your home. Be sure to mark windows and doors.
  • Plan two ways out of each room.
  • Teach your kids to crawl low if they see smoke. 
  • Plan an outside meeting place for everyone in your home.
  • Practice your escape plan with every family member.
  • Make sure your kids know the sound of a smoke alarm and what steps to take when it goes off. 
  • If you’re staying somewhere away from home, know how to escape there, too. 

Fire prevention tips

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Check the alarms often and replace batteries at least once a year. 
  • Use flameless candles instead of real ones.
  • Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended.
  • Keep flammable materials at least 18 inches away from any open flame. Watch for commonly used materials like oven mitts, curtains, towels and clothing.

SFMD resources

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Department of Public Safety comprises 11 divisions where 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 is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the 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.
Editor’s note: Video comments from State Fire Marshal Bruce West are available online in .MOV and .MP4 formats.   

445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 |