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Fire Prevention Week – How it all Started

Oct 7, 2015

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

Every year, around this time, social networks become filled with the hashtag #FirePreventionWeek. But, do you know why? Why this week every year? Well, here are those answers:

Q: Does Fire Prevention Week have an annual theme?

A: Yes, the theme for 2015 is “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!” Roughly half of home fire deaths occur from fires between 11 P.M. and 7 A.M. – when people are asleep.

Q: When did it originate, and why?

A: Fire Prevention Week is the longest-running national safety observance on record. Those who survived both the Great Chicago and the Peshtigo Fires (on October 9, 1871) never forgot the tragedies, and firefighters changed their views on fire safety. As a result, on the 40th anniversary of these catastrophes, the Fire Marshals Association of North America decided to observe these fires through public fire prevention information. This commemoration grew incrementally official over the years, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed annually on the Sunday through Saturday week of October 9.

Q: What was the Great Chicago Fire?

A: The cause of the fire was undetermined, but legends point to a cow knocking over a lantern, while others accuse human behavior or even a meteor that struck the area. However it happened, it is known as one of America’s worst fires in history, killing approximately 300 people, leaving 100,000 homeless, destroying more than 17,000 structures and burning more than 2,000 acres. The fire started late October 8, 1871 and continued through October 10.

Q: What was the Peshtigo Fire?

A: While the Great Chicago Fire is the most known of the fires to ignite in 1871, it wasn’t the largest. The Peshtigo Fire was the most devastating forest fire in American history. It also occurred on October 8, 1871 in Wisconsin, killing 1,152 people, and destroying 1.2 million acres. Historical accounts state the blaze was caused by an unintentional brush fire by several railroad workers clearing land for tracks. Within an hour, the fire had completed ravaged the entire town of Peshtigo, WI.

Q: What can you do to prevent fires?

A: Educate yourself, your family, friends and staff. The National Fire Protection Association has some great fire safety tips, including checking your smoke alarms and creating a fire escape plan.

Check your smoke alarms throughout your house and office building every month – When working properly, these can save lives!

Sources: www.nfpa.org, www.mnn.com, www.history.com