Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned over 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, 1871, but did most of its damage on October 9th.
According to legend, the fire broke out when a cow belonging to Mrs. Catherine O’Leary kicked over a lantern setting first the barn, then the whole city.
Those who survived the Chicago fire never forgot what they had been through. But the fire changed the way that firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety. On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America decided that the anniversary should be observed not with festivities, but in a way to keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls. 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. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.
During this week, firefighters reach out to school age children to educate the importance of fire safety. Firefighters use videos, handouts, and short presentations to get their message to the kids.
This is a good time to go over your fire safety plan at home. By implementing a home action plan, children learn the importance of fire safety from the best teachers in the world, the parents.