(NNCNOW.com) The number of people killed in Minnesota last year in fires is down 11 percent from 2011, according to final figures from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division.
According to a news release issued Tuesday:
Fifty people died in fires last year compared to 56 in 2011. The state’s all-time low fire-death figure was 35 in 2009; the high was 134 in 1976.
Fire deaths occurred in 38 Minnesota cities in 2012. Fires in Minnetonka, St. Paul and Blue Earth each claimed the lives of two people.
St. Paul had the most fire deaths with four, followed by Blue Earth (3) and Minneapolis (3). Balaton, Bloomington, Faribault, Fergus Falls and Minnetonka each had two fire deaths.
“We hope for the year when we have no fire fatalities to report. We hope for the day when families don’t have to grieve for members killed prematurely in a preventable fire,” State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. “Most fires are preventable. Minnesotans need to learn how to prevent fires and how to escape them so we can continue to reduce the number of fire fatalities.”
Some key findings from the 2012 fire death statistics:
• Residential buildings continue to be the most dangerous from a fire-and-life safety perspective
o 23 people died in fires in one- or two-family dwellings
o 4 people died in multifamily apartment buildings
o 2 people died in hotels, motels or cabins
o 18 people died in non-structure fires
• 23 fire deaths in 2012 were accidental
• Half the people who died in fires were between ages 51 and 70
• 34 percent of fire deaths involved alcohol or drugs
• Smoke alarms were not present in seven of the deaths
• Working alarms were present in three deaths; non-working alarms were present in four deaths
The SFMD works to reduce fire deaths with emphasis on education and fire prevention, and by promoting the use of protection systems like smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems.
“We will continue to use every means available to eliminate preventable fires and fire deaths in Minnesota,” said Becki White, deputy state fire marshal and fire and life safety educator. “This is not just our mission, it’s our passion. Public education is one of our most valuable tools because fire is everyone’s fight.”
There have been nine fire deaths between January and April this year compared to 19 during that that time in 2012.
Fire safety tips
• Use electric candles instead of real ones.
• When using open flames, keep materials at least 18 inches away from the flame. Watch for common materials that you may overlook because they’re always around — oven mitts, curtains, towels, clothing or firewood.
• Have a safe-escape plan for every building you visit, even your own home.
• Install smoke alarms; typically more smoke alarms are better.
• Consider protecting your home or business with fire sprinklers