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Open Forum: Don’t be a fire victim

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Thirty-nine Minnesotans died in smoke and flames last year — up from 34 deaths in 2009. The majority of the victims lost their lives in a place where they should feel safest — at home. And unfortunately, in more than a third of these tragedies, smoke alarms were missing or inoperable.

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Cooking, heating and open flames accounted for nearly 70 percent of residential fires with cooking, once again, being the leading cause. And while careless smoking accounts for only four percent of residential fires, it caused 21 percent of residential fire deaths last year.

These sobering statistics are part of the reason for Fire Prevention Month in Minnesota. The campaign, sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association, is an annual effort to spread life-saving messages in hopes of changing behavior that leads to deadly fires.

Gov. Dayton has signed a proclamation officially declaring October Fire Prevention Month in Minnesota, and the State Fire Marshal Division has launched a month-long public education campaign. The campaign includes advertisements on Metro Transit buses, downloadable education materials on the State Fire Marshal website, fire safety tips on the Fire Marshal’s social media pages and a plan to distribute news releases across the state throughout the month informing Minnesotans of open houses at fire departments and providing additional prevention information. Please visit our website at fire.state.mn.us and select “Public Education” for the resources to help you learn and teach others about fire safety.

We ask that you take this opportunity in the month of October to learn more about how to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of fire. Educate yourself and teach your children how to save lives.

Jerry Rosendahl

State Fire Marshal

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