OCTOBER 4th - 10th, 2009:
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow - belonging to Mrs. Catherine O'Leary - kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. Chances are you've heard some version of this story yourself; people have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O'Leary, for more than 130 years.
While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze, the most devastating forest fire in American history was the Peshtigo Fire. The fire, which also occurred on October 8th, 1871, and roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended. Historical accounts of the fire say that the blaze began when several railroad workers clearing land for tracks unintentionally started a brush fire. Before long, the fast-moving flames were whipping through the area. Within an hour, the entire town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin had been destroyed.
Those who survived the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot what they'd been through; both blazes produced countless tales of bravery and heroism. But the fires also 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 of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a way that would 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.
What can YOU do???
replace the batteries in your smoke detectors... print out this Fire Inspection Checklist... be sure your home is fire-safe by hunting for hazards... and stop by your local fire company... we are always looking for volunteers... and not just those interested in fighting fires!!!