MN State Fire Marshal Update – August 9, 2012
1. Firefighter Memorial Dedication & Ceremony: On September 30th at 2:00pm on the Capitol Grounds an historical event will take place when our “refreshed” firefighter memorial statue will be dedicated in its new home, and a ceremony will take place to honor the 205 firefighters who have died in the line of duty in Minnesota. There has been a concerted effort to reach the families of the 205 to invite them to attend – and many have been contacted – but there are still many who have not been reached. If you can help with that, contact email@example.com. As a point of trivia and for a comparison, in Minnesota there are 200 cities with a population less than 205. We have lost the equivalent of entire city populations due to brave firefighters responding to help their neighbors in time of need. It is right and proper that we honor and remember their sacrifices. Hundreds will attend this event – will you? Register at www.mnfireservicefoundation.org.
2. Civilian Fire Fatalities: We are currently at 30 fire deaths for this year, which compares to 34 at this same time last year. Before you think too positively about that comparison, please remember that in 2011 there were 56 fatalities, the highest number since 2002. That number also represents the first time in many years that we have exceeded the national average fire deaths per thousand population. So that’s not a mark we want to repeat. At any time you wish, you can check on the current status of fire deaths by going to www.fire.state.mn.us and clicking on Fire Death Information in the box on the left side of the page. Another piece of trivia for you is that Norman County suffered their first-ever fire death in 2011, and now Traverse County remains as the only county in MN without a fire death.
3. Fire & Rescue Shared Services: Through funding from the Fire Safety Account with approval of Commissioner Mona Dohman we have another $200,000 for grants for 2 or more communities that wish to study the feasibility of and learning options for sharing fire and rescue services. Bruce Roed, our Fire Service Specialist, will be coordinating this program – he can be contacted at Bruce.Roed@state.mn.us and at 651.201.7218. The committee that was used for the 1st round of grants is being used again to develop the criteria, timeline, etc. for this 2nd round. Details will be coming out from Bruce once they are completed. Bruce and I have received many inquiries about these grants from fire chiefs, city managers and township officials so we expect a lot of interest in these grants. For more information on the 1st round grantees and their study reports, go to our web site and click on the link under Special Notices. An update on this project will be given at the Fire Chiefs’ conference in Duluth in October.
4. Highway Safety for 1st Responders: Also through funding from the Fire Safety Account and approval from Commissioner Dohman we have money to develop a training package for our responders using Minnesota-specific laws and roads. There are some training videos and books on the market but a committee put together to work on this issue feels we need to deal with the wide range of issues specific to Minnesota from interstate traffic to township roads, and from private vehicle response to meeting the requirements from a DOT perspective. An update on this project will be given at the Fire Chiefs’ conference.
5. Fire Training Money: The 4th Round of fire training reimbursements has been closed with $1,384,150.41 being requested from 524 MN Fire Departments. This is the highest number of fire departments that has been involved in this program so far, and this is the largest amount of money eligible for reimbursement so far. This round also has a “redistribution” program which will send out an additional $583,184.65 to 380 of those 524 fire departments who reported spending up to the maximum of $200 per firefighter. Training Board Executive Director Bruce West sent an explanation of that program to all fire departments, so any questions on redistribution should be directed to him at Bruce.West@state.mn.us. Bruce tells me the redistribution letters/amounts will go out next week – and the notice on Round 5 should be going out around Labor Day. This funding comes from the Fire Safety Account after approval by Commissioner Dohman.
6. Firecode@state.mn.us: Did you know that you can send an email to this address asking a fire code or building code question at any time, 24/7? We have several staff members monitoring that email address who are very quick to reply with an answer that will likely include the specific language from the code plus any advice on how to handle the situation. This has been a very successful program, which started because of workload and staffing issues, but continues because of the positive feedback and the obvious tendency of many of us these days to use email over phone calls and letters (does anyone really send letters anymore?).
7. Sky Lanterns: WCCO TV aired a story on Tuesday night about these items that are typically purchased for use in celebrations. They’ve been around for a long time, mainly in foreign countries. They are now being used more and more in the US – and are causing problems. They are ILLEGAL in Minnesota. They are considered a form of fireworks. The device acts like a miniature hot air balloon with the heat source being either a candle or some other combustible product which lifts it into the air. A Google search found 5 pages of links to stories where these have caused fires, including a house fire which killed a 10 year old boy. Since the story aired I have heard from several people of these lanterns being used in Minnesota. Did I mention that they are ILLEGAL? We have notified retailers through their state association of this fact and asked them to take these off their shelves if they have them. Besides the obvious fire concerns of landing in a backyard, on top of a building, or in a field of dry grass, there are also environmental and agricultural concerns.
8. Fire Protection Trailer: Our Fire Protection Team has now completed their trial demonstration of our new training trailer that shows every type of sprinkler system component there is. The trailer can be moved to any location to deliver this training by our staff. This training can be for fire inspectors to help them understand these systems as well as for fire officers who respond to the buildings that have the many different types of systems in them. Watch for upcoming training on this trailer and for how to set up training.
9. Governor’s Fire Prevention Day at the State Fair: Friday, August 24th is approaching fast and this is the big day at the Fair for 2012. The Governor’s Council on Fire Prevention & Control is the sponsor of this 14th annual event on the first Friday of the State Fair. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to work this event and the MN fire service has been very responsive to this need. Go to http://www.governorsfirepreventionday.com to learn more.
10. Conference & Seminar Grants: The MN Board of Firefighter Training & Education is currently accepting applications from fire service organizations for training grants. The applications period is from now through August 31st. The maximum grant will be $10,000 and it may be used for training expenses (there are some limitations) incurred for the training event which must be held prior to June 30, 2013. For more information go to www.mbfte.state.mn.us.
11. National Fire Academy Classes: If you have any questions about any on-campus or off-campus NFA classes feel free to contact Bruce.Roed@state.mn.us.
12. Youth Fire Setters: If you have any questions about how to set up a Youth Fire Setter Intervention program or how to deal with a youth fire setter, feel free to contact Kathy.Osmonson@state.mn.us.
13. Fire & Life Safety Education: If you have any questions on what resources the State Fire Marshal Division has on fire and life safety education or how to set up your own program, feel free to contact Becki.White@state.mn.us.
14. Fire Data Management: If you have any questions on how to set up a certain report in Image Trend to highlight certain types of fires, or locations of your fires, or any other criteria, feel free to contact Scott.Radke@state.mn.us.
15. Thank You: Thanks for everything you do in your community to make it safe. The MN fire service is a great example of local-state cooperation in delivering the full cycle of fire prevention – inspections, investigations, fire & life safety education, and code enforcement – without duplicating efforts.