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State Fire Marshal


Amber L Schindeldecker  651-216-0837
November 16, 2022
The Numbers Behind The Flames: New Tool Aims to Help Firefighters Save Lives
New Software Assesses Risks, Identifies Trends

ST. PAUL – Minnesota's fire departments have a new tool to help prevent or reduce the number of fires in their communities and ultimately save lives. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) launched a new Fire Risk Analysis Tool today and made it available to the fire service statewide.

This software platform is unique in mapping which areas of a jurisdiction have the most fires and pinpoints what caused them. Fire chiefs can use these data points to:
  • Identify high-risk populations and communities to better focus resources. 
  • Identify staffing needs at fire stations based on the numbers and types of fires.
  • Plan where mobile shifts should park their rigs at specific times.
  • Determine which neighborhoods need public education around fire prevention.
  • Measure and track fire mitigation efforts.
  • Strategize where to build future fire stations.
“We are committed to providing the Minnesota fire service the tools they need to continue serving their communities at the highest levels," said Minnesota State Fire Marshal Jim Smith. “Data is critical to preventing fires, saving lives and continuing the important work fire departments do every day. That is why we are so passionate about this tool and proud to put it in our firefighters' hands."

It includes fire data back to 2004, along with open source and demographic data, which will help a fire official understand a community's fire risk profile and its specific prevention needs. An algorithm goes one-step further by analyzing past fire events to draw patterns and predict the likelihood of fires to increase or decrease in a specific area. ​​

Right now, smoking-related fires are the number one cause of fire deaths statewide. The Fire Risk Analysis Tool could offer the data needed to bring those numbers down by identifying where people are smoking and what age groups are most affected. The goal is to use the information to be strategic about prevention efforts when departments continue to face limited funding and resources.

“When it comes to fire prevention, it is not a one size fits all solution," said Deputy State Fire Marshal Bob Reif. “Each community is unique. In terms of risk reduction strategies, what works for one department may not work for another. Access to these critical insights empowers fire officials to save more lives by catering specific solutions for the needs of their individual communities."

The SMFD initiated the planning for this database four years ago after 2017 fire deaths in Minnesota reached a 22-year high. Sixty-eight people died in fires that year. That was a 58 percent increase over 2016 and the highest number since 1995.

As part of the process, staff worked with Vancouver-based UrbanLogiq to build the platform in concert with state experts and the Minnesota fire service. Over the past several months, fire chiefs received extensive training on how to use the Fire Risk Analysis Tool to make faster decisions directly focused on reducing fire risks and saving lives.

Learn more about the Fire Risk Analysis Tool.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 10 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. 


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