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State Fire Marshal

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
 

About

What We Do

The State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) supports local fire and law enforcement authorities, other agencies and the general public with:
  • Fire/arson investigation training for local public-safety personnel.
  • Fire investigations and fire death investigations.
  • Materials, training and assistance to implement fire-safety education programs.
  • Fire inspections in public and charter schools, hotels/motels and health care facilities.
  • Development and adoption of state fire code.
The SFMD collects and maintains fire incident data and uses it to strengthen our state fire code, our code enforcement and our fire safety education programs.

To learn more about what the SFMD does across Minnesota, read our 2019 annual report​. Past annual reports are available here:
Read the division's strategic plan​ to learn more about how the SFMD plans to improve over the next three to five years. 


Our Mission

The mission of the State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property by fostering a fire-safe environment through investigation, enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education.


Related Minnesota Statute

More information about the State Fire Marshal Division can be found in chapter 299F of Minnesota state statute.


Leadership

Jim Smith, state fire marshal

Jim Smith was appointed the state fire marshal in December 2019.  Prior to that, he served as the State Fire Marshal Division chief deputy for five years. Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Jim Smith

Before joining the State Fire Marshal Division, Smith was assistant chief of operations of the Saint Paul Fire Department.

Smith has been in the fire service since August 1980. He started his career with the New Hope and Maple Grove fire departments. He became a nationally registered paramedic in 1987 and worked for North Memorial Ambulance for six years.

Smith continued his firefighting/paramedic career with the Edina Fire Department and then transferring over to the Saint Paul Fire Department in 1992. During his 22 ½  years with SPFD, Jim worked as a firefighter/paramedic, training officer, fire captain, rescue squad/hazardous materials captain, district chief and assistant chief.

In 2008, he was the special operations chief for the Republican National Convention. Smith also served on Minnesota Task Force-1 as a task force leader and sat on the Program Management Group.

Amanda Swenson, chief deputy state fire marshal

Amanda Swenson joined the State Fire Marshal Division in 2014 as a fire and life safety educator. In 2018, she became the supervisor of the State Services and Support Team, which includes public education, fire service specialists, state response teams and fleet. 

I
n June of 2020, she was named chief deputy state fire marshal. Swenson joined the fire service in 2010 with Braham Fire Department, where she still serves as a firefighter. 

Before she became a firefighter, Swenson earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. 

After earning her degree, she worked in the admissions office at Northland for seven years before returning to Minnesota. At that point, she started working in 4-H youth development with the University of Minnesota Extension program in Mille Lacs and Isanti Counties. During this time she earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Minnesota.

History

The position of State Fire Marshal was created by the Minnesota State Legislature in 1905. In 1913, the Fire Marshal Department was created and in 1970, the State Fire Marshal Division became part of the newly created Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Since that time, five State Fire Marshals have headed the division: Gene Weber (1970-72), Wes Werner (1972-86), Tom Brace (1987-2003), Jerry Rosendahl (2003-2013) and Bruce West (2013-present).

Minnesota has had a state fire code, enforced by the State Fire Marshal, since 1975. For the first 28 years, the state fire code was known as the Minnesota Uniform Fire Code. Since 2003, it has been called the Minnesota State Fire Code.
 

Staff

The State Fire Marshal Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a staff of 62, most of whom work in the downtown St. Paul headquarters, including the fire marshal, chief deputy, public educators, IT analyst, fire-code specialists, supervisors and five support staff.

The fire/arson investigation team includes one chief and 11 investigators assigned to regions around the state, where they work with local authorities to determine cause and origin on an average of 450 fires per year.

Eleven inspectors and two supervisors comprise the inspection team that covers all daycare facilities, hotels, motels, resorts and public K-12 schools across the state. Another team of eight inspectors and one supervisor inspect Minnesota health care facilities.

Three sprinkler safety specialists approve fire sprinkler plans and inspect all newly- installed systems.

 

The State Fire Marshal Division works closely with the:

  • Minnesota fire service
  • Health care agencies
  • Public school systems
  • Hotel and resort industry
  • Fire protection (sprinkler) community
  • Legislature
  • Media
  • General public

Here is the SFMD's organizational chart .​