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NEWS RELEASE

Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
CONTACT:
Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
jennifer.longaecker@state.mn.us
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2017
Fire Deaths Drop To Second-Lowest Level Ever
Fire marshal urges Minnesotans to keep taking fire prevention seriously
ST. PAUL, Minn. — One person died this morning in an apartment fire in Mound, the first fire fatality of 2017 in Minnesota. The death comes on the heels of a near record-setting year for fire deaths in the state. 

The number of fire deaths in 2016 was the second-lowest since the Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division​ (SFMD) began compiling those statistics in 1970, according to preliminary information released today.  

Thirty-six people died in fires in 2016, a 37 percent decrease over the 57 fatalities in 2015. The lowest number of fire fatalities on record was 35 in 2009; the highest was 134 in 1976. 

The leading cause of fatal fires last year in Minnesota was careless smoking (seven deaths) followed by combustibles too close (four) and suicide or arson (four), according to preliminary data. There were 13 fire deaths in which the fire’s cause was undetermined. 

Numbers become final once Minnesota hospital officials report their information to the Minnesota Department of Public Health in the spring.   

State Fire Marshal Bruce West said he is pleased fire deaths plummeted to a near-record low but that even one fire death is too many. 

“Nobody should ever have to suffer the pain of losing someone in a fire,” West said. “Everyone must take fire prevention seriously so the number of deaths keeps falling.”

West said it is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the drop in fire deaths. He is hopeful Minnesotans are realizing the danger and power of fire and taking fire prevention in their homes more seriously. 

Fire deaths the past decade
  • 2016: 36 (preliminary)
  • 2015: 57
  • 2014: 44
  • 2013: 44
  • 2012: 50
  • 2011: 56
  • 2010: 39
  • 2009: 35
  • 2008: 52
  • 2007: 40
Fire prevention tips
Minnesotans can keep themselves and their families safe by following these prevention tips: 
 
Cooking
  • Never leave a hot stovetop or oven unattended; stay and look while you cook.  
  • Keep anything flammable (oven mitts, aprons, paper towels) three feet from heat sources in the kitchen. 
Smoking
  • If you smoke, smoke outside. 
  • Use a deep, sturdy ashtray. Place it away from anything that can burn. 
  • Do not discard cigarettes in potted plants, leaves, mulch or other vegetation. 
  • Complete extinguish cigarettes. Use a metal container filled with water or sand.  
Heating
  • Keep space heaters three feet from anything combustible. 
  • Do not leave space heaters unattended and turn them off while you’re sleeping. 
  • Plug space heaters directly into the wall, not an extension cord or power strip. 
Open flames
  • Leave three feet between a candle and anything that can burn; use flameless candles. 
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms save lives — but only if they work. Test yours monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. 
  • Fire doubles in size every 60 seconds; a smoke alarm can give you the valuable time you need to escape. 
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed within 10 feet of each sleeping room or inside each sleeping room.
About the Minnesota Department of 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. 
 
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445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov