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State Fire Marshal


Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
October 21, 2013
Fire Deaths Decline as Population Climbs
'Fire in Minnesota' Report Sheds Light on Fire Trends
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Fire deaths have decreased over the past 40 years even as the state’s population grows and more fires have been recorded every year since 2010, according to the latest Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division report.

“Fire in Minnesota 2012” provides data on fire incidents, causes and casualties, and a breakout of arson statistics.

“While even one fire death is too many, we are proud of the progress made in Minnesota,” State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. “The fight against fire is everyone’s fight — and it needs to continue.”

According to the report, Minnesota has the 10th-lowest rate of fire deaths per capita in the United States at .93 deaths per 100,000 people.

State officials say fire service advancements and fire protection technology like smoke alarms and sprinkler systems have helped lower the number of fire deaths. Inspection and code enforcement programs targeting hotels, motels, schools and other facilities have also played a role.

 “Information in the ‘Fire in Minnesota’ report helps us reduce fire incidents, injuries and deaths, and continue our hard work designing programs that help citizens and firefighters,” Rosendahl said.

Fire Deaths Per Decade
  • 1970s: 961
  • 1980s: 776
  • 1990s: 585
  • 2000s: 465
  • 2010s: 480 (estimate to date)
Key Statistics from the 2012 report:
  • There were 16,581 fires — a 12 percent increase.
    • 6,429 structure fires
    • 2,609 vehicle fires
    • 7,543 other fires

  • Fifty people died in fires compared to 56 in 2011.
    • 3 people died in fires where there were working smoke alarms. 
    • 10 people died from careless smoking.
  • Fires caused $292.2 million in damage — a 92 percent increase.
    • Much of the increase is because of the Verso Paper Mill fire in Sartell, Minn. The mill sustained an estimated $60 million in structural damage and $18 million in lost contents. 
  • The number of incendiary fires, including arson, increased 18 percent in 2012.

  • Incendiary refers to any intentionally set fire, including out of control recreational fires.

  • Cooking continues to be the No. 1 cause of structure fires.

  • There was one fire reported every 32 minutes statewide.  

Did You Know?

  • Traverse County has not had a fire fatality in 29 years.

  • There were zero line-of-duty firefighter deaths in 2012.

The “Fire in Minnesota” report is based on numbers provided by Minnesota fire departments. Only eight of Minnesota’s 785 fire departments did not submit 2012 statistics.

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 2012 annual statistics:

  • One fire was reported every 32 minutes.

  • Fifty people died in fires.

  • Dollar-loss to fires averaged $556 per minute. 


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