SAINT PAUL, MN (KMHL) — Minnesota’s fire departments have a new tool to help prevent or reduce the number of fires in their communities and ultimately save lives. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) launched a new Fire Risk Analysis Tool today and made it available to the fire service statewide.

This software platform is unique in mapping which areas of a jurisdiction have the most fires and pinpoints what caused them. Fire chiefs can use these data points to:

  • Identify high-risk populations and communities to better focus resources.
  • Identify staffing needs at fire stations based on the numbers and types of fires.
  • Plan where mobile shifts should park their rigs at specific times.
  • Determine which neighborhoods need public education around fire prevention.
  • Measure and track fire mitigation efforts.
  • Strategize where to build future fire stations.
“We are committed to providing the Minnesota fire service the tools they need to continue serving their communities at the highest levels,” said Minnesota State Fire Marshal Jim Smith. “Data is critical to preventing fires, saving lives and continuing the important work fire departments do every day. That is why we are so passionate about this tool and proud to put it in our firefighters’ hands.”
It includes fire data back to 2004, along with open source and demographic data, which will help a fire official understand a community’s fire risk profile and its specific prevention needs. An algorithm goes one-step further by analyzing past fire events to draw patterns and predict the likelihood of fires to increase or decrease in a specific area. ​​

Right now, smoking-related fires are the number one cause of fire deaths statewide. The Fire Risk Analysis Tool could offer the data needed to bring those numbers down by identifying where people are smoking and what age groups are most affected. The goal is to use the information to be strategic about prevention efforts when departments continue to face limited funding and resources.