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State Fire Marshal


Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Kristine Chapin  651-201-7567
November 02, 2012
Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries, Change Your Odds
Fire Survival Chances Depend on Early Warning

​St. Paul — Statistics collected from Minnesota fire departments in 2011 reveal that the peak time for home fire fatalities is between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., and 29 percent of residential fire deaths that year occurred in homes without working smoke alarms. Those are two reasons the State Fire Marshal supports the annual “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” campaign.

Early Sunday morning, November 4, daylight-saving time ends and clocks must be turned back one hour. State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl reminds Minnesotans to make another change, too: change batteries in every smoke alarm to assure adequate warning in case of a fire.

“Smoke alarm batteries need to be checked often and changed at least once a year. Smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years,” Rosendahl said. “These devices save lives every day, and ignoring them can be a fatal mistake.”
About two-thirds of fire deaths nationwide occur in homes without working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most commonly, alarms fail due to missing or worn-out batteries.
Rosendahl says that some people remove batteries for other uses or to keep the alarm from going off accidentally. “They’re gambling with their lives, even if they think the chance of a fire is nil. Sadly, that may be what others thought, too — before they died because they had no warning before their homes filled with smoke.”
In most communities, residents who need help installing or maintaining smoke alarms can call on their fire department for assistance.
“Change your clocks, change your batteries,” Rosendahl says. “It’s easy to remember, simple to do, and it provides essential protection for your life and property.”
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.
In 2011:
  • One structure fire was reported in Minnesota every 1.3 hours (Rural – every 3.0 hours; Metro – every 2.4 hours
  • 5,039 of a total 6,530 structure fires in Minnesota occurred in residential property, accounting for 62 percent of total financial loss
  • 67 fires were extinguished by automatic sprinkler systems, minimizing loss and potentially saving lives; 23 of them took place in residential or multifamily-dwelling buildings.
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 |