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State Fire Marshal

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

From the state fire marshal

​By Jim Smith
State Fire Marshal

An entire generation has been raised hearing that smoking is bad for your health. The State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) would like to add that smoking can kill you in more than one way. 

The story repeats itself every year. As we put together fire death data, we find that careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in Minnesota. It’s killing Minnesotans in fires each year. Over the past 10 years, 89 Minnesotans died in fires related to careless smoking. The real number is likely higher, because we know what a challenge it can be to positively identify smoking material as a cause.

Over the next five years, SFMD’s goal of is to reduce the number of fire deaths caused by careless smoking by 30 percent. We hope to educate all Minnesotans, including friends and family of smokers, about the dangers of careless smoking. We certainly cannot achieve this goal without the support of the Minnesota fire service.

We need your assistance in reminding people about the importance of working smoke alarms, and that if they smoke, they should smoke outside and properly dispose of cigarettes.  We also find that often, alcohol and drug use is a factor in those careless smoking fires.

SFMD is here to support your efforts to save lives through this education campaign. Over the next several months we will be producing a variety of materials for use by fire departments around the state. These materials will include social media tools, newspaper articles, videos and handout materials. We are also open to ideas, so if you have something that works well in your community, let us know by contacting Bob Reif or Kathi Osmonson, our public educators. Please consider this initiative as you plan your public education events for the next year.

Imagine: If we are successful, we will save on average of three lives every single year. Maybe the person we save is your sweet neighbor Patty, your uncle Steve, Grandma Lucy or someone you have never met. No matter whose lives are being saved, it will make a difference across the state of Minnesota.