By Bruce West
State fire marshal
The Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association (MSFCA) just completed a very successful fall conference in Duluth, where the State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) released our 2018 Fire in Minnesota report to a representative of each fire department in attendance. If your fire department was unable to send a representative to the MSFCA conference, don’t worry; our office will be sending a copy to every fire department not represented at the conference.
The SFMD has been publishing the Fire in Minnesota report since 1989, and each year the number of fire departments reporting to the Minnesota Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) has grown. Today we have 99 percent of Minnesota fire departments reporting to MFIRS. That means we have over 300,000 incidents that are part of the data analysis that our Data Team of Jon Nisja, Nora Gierok, Scott Radke and Joel Paylor work with to create the report.
A few highlights of the 2018 Fire in Minnesota report:
- Store and office property dollar loss went up over 200 percent from 2017.
- There was one $4.5 million dollar sorting facility fire loss and one $3.8 million dollar multi-commercial fire loss.
- Incendiary fires were at their lowest at 730, a 30 percent decrease from 2017.
- Alcohol and drug use was a factor in 49 percent of all fire deaths in 2018.
- The number of structure (building) fires is similar to recent past years.
- 2018: 6,130 structure fires
- 2017: 6,165 structure fires
- 2016: 6,020 structure fires
- Total dollar loss from fire is similar to recent past years.
- Overall fire department responses are up.
- 2018: 309,652 fire and non-fire incidents
- Mutual aid responses are up over the recent years.
As fires continue at their present rate, does that mean we are not doing enough in terms of fire prevention in our communities? We all know we have reduced the number of fire fatalities in the past 25 years, and the number of catastrophic fires have also dramatically dropped, but we can’t stop now. The fire service of Minnesota must not believe that we have done enough and that fire is simply an “ordinary” or “unremarkable” event in our communities.
All 775 Minnesota fire departments provide remarkable service to each and every community and township in your fire protections areas. I hope you read through our 2018 Fire in Minnesota and look at the data and. I hope it motivates you to make change in your community. Minnesotans deserve remarkable, not unremarkable, service from us all. Thank you for your support of the SFMD.