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State Fire Marshal


Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
October 01, 2013
Fire Marshal Urges Minnesotans to Cook with Caution
During Fire Prevention Month, Take #Safetyselfies Showing How You Prevent Fires

ST. PAUL, Minn. — State fire officials are urging Minnesotans to clear countertop clutter and cook with caution following a fire Saturday that injured an elderly woman and a St. Paul firefighter. The 85-year-old woman was cooking breakfast when a plastic appliance near the stove caught fire.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) kicks off Fire Prevention Month today with these reminders: Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop and never leave the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. 

“A pan of oil can ignite in mere seconds. Leaving cooking unattended, even for one minute, can be deadly,” State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. “Cooking-related injuries and deaths are preventable. Stay in the kitchen and pay attention while you cook.”

Observation of Fire Prevention Month in Minnesota is built around Fire Prevention Week Oct. 6-12. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires.”

Cooking continues to be the leading cause of Minnesota structure fires, accounting last year for 46 percent of blazes and $292 million in property damage. Cooking fires killed one person and injured 42 last year in Minnesota. 

Hundreds of Minnesota fire departments will hold open houses this month. Local residents are encouraged to attend and learn — among other tips — how to keep cooking fires from starting.

“We hope Minnesotans learn some simple ways they can prevent fires,” Rosendahl said. “We’re encouraging everyone to use this month as a time to focus on fire safety and to share life-saving tips with friends and family.”

Check the SFMD website at for a list of open houses or contact your local department.

#Safetyselfie Social Media Users Asked to Take Fire Prevention Pic

Using the hashtag #safetyselfie, Twitter and Facebook users are invited to post photos of themselves taking steps to prevent fires.

The #safetyselfie photos could show:

  • People keeping an eye on their cooking to prevent kitchen fires.
  • Candles being used in a safe way, i.e. well away from curtains and in heat-proof containers.
  • People cleaning their ovens. Greasy build-ups can cause kitchen fires.

The best photos will be shared on Facebook and retweeted to DPS and SFMD Twitter followers.  Remember this important fact though: The campaign is about showing off safety savvy — so be careful while taking your selfies!

Cooking safety tips

  • Pay attention and stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food.
  • Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen, even for a short time.
  • Have a kid-free zone of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging — away from the stovetop.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. 
    • Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stove.
    • Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

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 statistics:

  • One structure fire was reported in Minnesota every 1.4 hours
  • 4,863 of a total 6,436 structure fires in Minnesota occurred in residential property
  • 58 percent of fire deaths occurred where people generally feel safest – at home


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