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State Fire Marshal


Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
November 26, 2014
Keep Your Holidays Warm, Bright and Fire-Safe
Home Fires and Fire Fatalities Jump in Minnesota During Winter Holiday Season
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The holiday season is historically a dangerous time for residential fires and fire deaths in Minnesota. November and December were last year’s deadliest months with 14 total fire fatalities.
As Thanksgiving nears, State Fire Marshal Bruce West urges all Minnesotans to take extra caution. The three leading causes of Minnesota fires last year — cooking,
heating and open flame — are all holiday staples. 
“Holiday distractions can cause people to forget about fire prevention and that can be a fatal mistake,” West said. “Following some simple rules can keep us all safe and put an end to preventable fires and deaths.”

West offers the following tips to keep your home and family safe this holiday season:

  • Never leave a hot stovetop or oven unattended.
  • Smother a stovetop grease fire with a pan lid and turn off the burner.

  • Keep space heaters three feet from anything combustible.
  • Do not leave space heaters unattended and turn them off while you’re sleeping.
  • Inspect heaters before use; make sure safety shields are in place and electrical components intact.

Open flames
  • Leave three feet between a lit candle and anything that can burn.
  • Consider switching to flameless candles.
  • Decorations like stockings, tinsel garland are combustible. Keep them three feet from any fuel source.
  • Never, ever burn gift wrap in a fireplace; it burns too fast and hot to be controlled.

Since 1990, there have been 44 fire deaths and 17 injuries over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and 165 fire deaths and 60 injuries between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. 

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 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 SFMD 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.

2013 State Fire Marshal Division Highlights
  • Staff conducted 5,000 fire code inspections
  • Investigators assisted on 450 fire/arson cases
  • The 25th anniversary edition of Fire in Minnesota is online


445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov