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State Fire Marshal Encourages Residents To Be Safe When Cooking This Holiday

November 21, 2022 – State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer is urging Michigan residents to be mindful of fire safety while cooking this Thanksgiving.

Portable propane fueled turkey fryers – a popular and faster cooking method for your Thanksgiving turkey – pose a considerable fire risk if not used correctly.

“Improperly deep-frying turkeys accounts for too many preventable house and garage fires reported each year,” said Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer. “Deep frying a turkey in several gallons of hot oil is a dangerous activity. If the cooking oil vapors ignite, it becomes as flammable as gasoline. Never use a portable deep fryer in a garage, on or under a deck, breezeway, porch or inside any structure.”

When using a portable propane deep fryer:

  • Always fry on a flat surface, well away from houses, garages, decks, trees, bushes, and other flammable materials.
  • Use a fryer with a gas valve controller.
  • Make sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry the turkey prior to frying.
  • Allow at least two feet of space between the liquid propane tank and the portable deep fryer burner.
  • Only use cooking oil recommended by the deep fryer manufacturer; different types of cooking oil have different ignition temperatures when heated.
  • Do not overfill the portable deep fryer with cooking oil.
  • If the cooking oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the propane tank to OFF by closing the propane tank valve.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher (dry powder) ready; never use water to extinguish a cooking oil or grease fire.

Additionally, residents are encouraged to protect their families year-round with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.

“We need your help to protect your families,” said Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer. “This Thanksgiving, as you visit with family, I encourage you and your relatives to “push the button” to check and make sure they have working smoke alarms in their homes.”

As of November 21, Michigan has experienced 111 fire deaths in 93 residential fires in 2022. This is an 11% increase of annual fire fatalities in Michigan compared to the previous five-year (2017-2021) average. Out of these 93 fires, a majority did not have working smoke alarms.

“Each home should have a working smoke alarm in every bedroom and, outside of sleeping areas, they should have an alarm on each level of the home,” said Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer. “Each home should also have a working CO detector on every level and outside sleeping areas.”

As MI Prevention and the Michigan Fire Inspectors Society ( continue to analyze fatal fire data and smoke alarm installations from Michigan fire departments, several trends have been identified:

  • 64% of these fatal fires happened between 6pm-6am.
  • Smoking was the leading cause of the fires (54%).
  • People between the ages of 40 and 79 are at the most risk from fatal residential fires.

“Too many Michigan residents do not have working smoke alarms and, in a fire, that can be the difference between life and death,” said Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer. “We have found that several victims did not escape in the first two minutes of a fire due to smoke inhalation. A quick warning from a smoke detector can be the difference that allows residents to escape quickly.”

This Thanksgiving, we are focusing on several data driven safety tips and encourage you to have these discussions with family. 

  • Every home should have working smoke alarms and CO detectors.
  • Close a door between you and the smoke if a fire occurs. This will increase your survival time of escaping.
  • Develop and practice a Fire Escape Plan. Evaluate all escape routes and make sure they are clear for loved ones to escape if a fire does occur.
  • Make sure escape plans allow any family members with mobility or disability issues to escape in two minutes or less.

The Bureau of Fire Services is encouraging residents to post a family safety message or action item and tag #MIPrevention on social media. Fire can happen to anyone and escaping a fire in less than two minutes is only possible with working smoke alarms, closed doors between you and the smoke, and practicing your escape plan.

Visit the Bureau of Fire Services’ website at for more information and fire safety tips.