ST. PAUL — A new, online resource is available to help Minnesotans stop home fires before they start. Based on the premise that “Knowledge is the best fire extinguisher,” the Home Safety Challenge site developed by Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department is available to all Minnesotans. It addresses the persistent problem of residential fires caused primarily by carelessness or lack of information.
Fire in Minnesota, the State Fire Marshal Division 2011 Annual Report compiled from data reported by 98 percent of the state’s fire departments, says that one fire is reported in Minnesota every 35 minutes — and that houses, apartments and other dwellings are the most common places the fires occur.
According to State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl, the remedy is twofold: make your home a safe environment, and make your behavior fire-safe. “The Home Safety Challenge website addresses both of those solutions clearly and helpfully,” Rosendahl says. “Anyone can learn something new by using this tool, and it’s fun to do.”
The State Fire Marshal Division (fire.state.mn.us) has linked to the “Challenge” site and encourages schools, non-profits, business associations and others to do the same.
Visitors to the site are taken through a thought-provoking list of 37 questions about where fire dangers may lie in their own homes. At the end, they receive a score and a list of resources to help eliminate potential problems or learn more about fire-safe behavior.
Because residential dwellings vary widely, three different videos focus on fire issues in single-family homes, apartments and older adults’ homes, and manufactured homes. A downloadable brochure contains specific advice for parents, caregivers, renters, older adults and residents of manufactured housing.
Rosendahl believes that anyone who spends time on the Home Safety Challenge website can gain the tools to prevent residential fires. “Fire is everyone’s fight. If you’re not actively trying to prevent home fires, you’re overlooking a real threat. Using this site is a way to correct that and put yourself on the road to safety at home.”
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 enforcement, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: enforcement, education and prevention.
The State Fire Marshal Division fosters a fire-safe environment through fire/arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education.