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State Fire Marshal


Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
November 23, 2015
With Fire Deaths on the Rise, Fire Marshal Asks for Public's Help
Social Media Campaign Will Focus on Ways Minnesotans Prevent Fires
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The number of fire fatalities in 2015 has already surpassed last year’s number — a concerning statistic with some of the historically most deadly months ahead for residential fires.
Minnesota State Fire Marshal Bruce West is asking Minnesotans to help make this a holiday season without heartache. His goal? No more residential fires or fire fatalities this year. 
“We need people to be part of the solution by taking fire prevention seriously,” West said. “We do not want anyone else to suffer the heartache that comes along with a house fire.”
Forty-six people have died in fires so far this year in Minnesota compared 44 in all of 2014. There were 41 fire deaths at this time last year.
Why can the holiday season and winter months dangerous for fires? The three leading causes of Minnesota fires last year — cooking, heating and open flame — are holiday staples. 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.
Open flames
  • Leave three feet between a candle and anything that can burn; use flameless candles.
  • Holiday decorations are combustible. Keep them three feet from any fuel source.
  • Never burn gift wrap in a fireplace; it burns too fast and hot to be controlled.
Be Part of the Solution
The SFMD is asking people to share what steps they’re taking to prevent fires in their homes using the hashtag #FireFree on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Do you test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms every month? Snap a photo and show us on social media. Do you have a quick and easy way to remember to practice your safe escape plan? Share it. Your tip or photo could help save someone’s life.
Since 1990, there has been an average 81 residential fires over theThanksgiving holiday weekend and 187 residential fires between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.  Last year, 20 of Minnesota’s 44 fire deaths occurred cold-weather months.
2014 Fire Deaths by Month:
January: 5
February: 9
March: 8
April: 4
May: 5
June: 2
July: 0
August: 1
September: 3
October: 1
November: 3
December:  3
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.
2014 State Fire Marshal Division Highlights
  • Staff answered 1,866 fire code questions via phone and email
  • Investigators assisted on more than 400 fire/arson cases
  • The Fire in Minnesota archive is online
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov