The National Fire Protection Agency has sponsored a public observance of Fire Prevention Week since 1922. Observed the week of October 9, it commemorates the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871 that killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless, as well as destroying more than 17,400 structures and burning more than 2,000 acres of land.
President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the week a national observance in 1925, making it the longest-running public health observance in the country. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.
This year’s campaign is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”
Its goal is to educate people about three basic but essential steps to take to reduce the likelihood of having a fire and how to escape safely in the event of a fire.
Look for places fire could start. Take a good look around your home. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.
Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm. You could have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Go to your outside meeting place, which should be a safe distance from the home and where everyone should know to meet.
Learn two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.
This year, the Fire Prevention Week kids’ campaign introduces the character Simon, a friend to National Fire Protection Agency mascot Sparky the Fire Dog, who helps teach fire-safety messages.
By Bradley W.M. Dattilio, SBFD Lieutenant/Paramedic and Fire Prevention Education Coordinator