Fire Safety and Prevention
The idea of National Fire Prevention Week began to smolder some years after the Great Chicago Fire, which took down a major portion of the Windy City on October 9, 1871. The blaze killed approximately 250 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed 17,430 structures at a cost of $168 million. The fire actually began on October 8, but continued to burn, executing most of its damage well into the next day. The point of origin for this fire has been the source of many tales for more than 130 years. You’ve probably heard the one about Mrs. O’Leary milking her cow when the animal kicked over a lamp, setting the barn on fire and hence, all of Chicago. Some people believe the fire was started by a couple of neighborhood boys who were sneaking cigarettes out behind Mrs. O’Leary’s barn. For all we really know, maybe the cows were smoking! However this incredible fire began, it flew out of control very quickly, burning more than 2000 acres and took 27 hours to knock down. The city was able to rebuild seemingly as fast as it burned, and on October 9, 1911 the people of Chicago began to commemorate their incredible comeback by throwing festive celebrations on the anniversary of the fire, thus inaugurating the first Fire Prevention Day and the earliest thoughts of promoting fire prevention in addition to fire fighting.
It was the Fire Marshals Association of North America, which is now part of the National Fire Protection Association, who decided that the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention, and it was President Woodrow Wilson who proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Day with President Calvin Coolidge signing the first proclamation announcing National Fire Prevention Week in 1925. According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.
Today, fire professionals, teachers and students—Americans—observe Fire Prevention Week from the Sunday through Saturday weekdays surrounding October 9th. Fire departments open their doors to thousands of people for tours and educational opportunities. Many schools invite firefighters to come and speak before student assemblies and many still remember those early experiences with those firefighters even into their later years. Maybe you do too?
Fire prevention is a never-ending story. As long as the earth has its elements there will be fire. As long as there are fires there will be firefighters to fight them. Boynton Beach Fire Rescue invites you to pay us a visit during Fire Prevention Week and throughout the year. We look forward to meeting you.
Disclaimer: While Boynton Beach Fire Rescue does not endorse or officially recommend any product or service, we believe in providing relevant information to the public that may help prevent fires, injuries or other emergencies. This information is meant solely to alert the public to the fact that new information exists that may be worthy of attention. Boynton Beach Fire Rescue supports the facts that smoke alarms save lives and that supplementing your in-home fire safety systems with new and available technologies is worthy of serious consideration.