By Bruce West
State fire marshal
Our statistics show the tragedy that fires cause across Minnesota with fire deaths (36 in 2018) and
property damage ($229,335,335). But the greatest tragedy is that most of these fires and fire fatalities didn’t need to happen at all. The fatalities and the property damage only tell part of the story. What happens to a commercial business when a fire occurs in their building?
Closing down a manufacturing plant or a downtown small business because of a fire not only puts a stop to sales and service to the citizens in a community, but often it forces regular customers away for good as they look to shop elsewhere. When a manufacturing plant closes because of a fire, people are out of work, sometimes forever, because the plant may not rebuild.
Business owners spend valuable time finding or rebuilding new plant facilities, which is often more costly than the fire damage itself. Fire is unpredictable, but with care, most fires are preventable and need not have happened.
Minnesota Firefighter Initiative (MnFIRE)
The goal of the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative is to reduce the rates of cardiac disease, emotional trauma and cancer in the fire service. Cancer, emotional trauma and cardiac disease affect firefighters at rates that are approximately double those in the general public. Our local heroes are dying and becoming disabled by these health issues at alarming rates.
The path forward is a five-pronged approach composed of education, prevention, support, research and regional provider networks. The MnFIRE Awareness Training across the state of Minnesota has been outstanding and has been delivered to over 7900 firefighters. Many fire departments receiving this critical training invited the families of their firefighters to attend the class to hear this vital message.
Prevention is the key to reducing the risks of firefighting. Prevention starts with you accepting the personal responsibility for firefighter health and safety. However, that is not enough. MnFIRE works to share the most up-to-date information to protect Minnesota firefighters. MnFIRE is taking the lead in Minnesota as the resource for firefighters in the state and for those who support them.
The Fallen Firefighter Memorial Sunday, Sept. 29
The annual Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service is held each year on the last Sunday in September, which has been designated as the state’s official day to honor Minnesota’s fallen firefighters. Each event recognizes dozens of people, including newly discovered line-of-duty deaths and families the Minnesota Fire Service Foundation was able to track down since last year’s memorial service.
The foundation coordinates the effort to recognize the state’s firefighters who died in the line of duty and provides support and resources to fire departments, firefighters and their families throughout Minnesota. The 2019 Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service ceremony will take place on the grounds of the State Capitol starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29.
The day begins with an interfaith service, after which fire service personnel will read the honor roll. Families will enter the Capitol grounds through a sea of uniforms and be escorted to their seats. Bells across Minnesota will ring to honor the state’s fallen firefighters. Family members and the public are welcome to spend time within the Fallen Firefighter Memorial and make rubbings of their loved one’s name.
Thank you to the hard working Minnesota Fire Service Foundation Board of Directors, led by its president, Jay Wood. The Minnesota Fire Service Foundation has representatives from the Minnesota Professional Firefighters (MPFF), Chris Parsons; the Minnesota State Fire Department Association (MSFDA), Brad Droege, Allen Eisinger and Brian Petersen; and the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association (MSFCA), Jay Wood, Mike Meyer and George Esbensen.
Please set aside Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, to attend the Minnesota Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service and come together to honor our fallen comrades and support their families.
Be sure to check out the rest of the articles from our September newsletter. Past newsletters are also available in our archive on the right side of the page.