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State Fire Marshal

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

There are 2 sides of the fence

​​By Jim Smith 
State Fire Marshal​​​

The holiday season is upon us. Along with Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, we have colder weather increasing the need for alternative heating methods in many homes. Cooking fires still remain the top cause for residential fires in Minnesota. We see a dramatic spike of cooking fires around the holiday season. Alternative heating fires become a problem during the winter months. Extension cords, combustibles too close to the heating element, heaters left on while not in the room – all of these are emergencies just waiting to happen.

The fire service in Minnesota is second to none. Every one of the 750+ fire departments responds diligently and professionally when called to a structure fire. And it goes without saying when the fire department arrives, the fire will be put out. Unfortunately among all the burned out rubble memories, pictures, and mementos are destroyed by the fire. It is heartbreaking to see the faces of the families who just lost everything. There are irreplaceable items lost ​​in the tragedy even though the fire department did their best to extinguish the fire,.

There is another side of the fence that we can go to that will hopefully minimize the chances of these fires ever happening. It's the fire prevention side of the fence. It is not as glamorous. It is not something that always makes the news headlines. And, it's sometimes hard to gauge the effects or outcomes of fire prevention efforts.

It is the responsibility of every firefighter and every fire department to do what they can to spread the message of fire safety in the home. And this time of year puts that initiative at the forefront of all our fire department activities. We know cooking fires increase during this time of year. We know alternative heating methods start more fires during this time of year. So it is imperative that everyone spread the message of home fire safety. We need to do our part in making sure “Mr. and Mrs. Smith" have a wonderful and safe holiday season. Get out into your community and share home fire safety literature. Set up a temporary kiosk in or near your local shopping mall and have information on hand needed to make your community safer. If you are unsure of where to get this type of information, there are many options on the State Fire Marshal website.

Let's all do our part to prevent as many fires as we can.