Fire Prevention Week
October 6-12th, 2019 is Fire Prevention Week
We observe Fire Prevention Week each year in commemoration of the devasting fires and extensive ruin that occurred on a single day in 1871.
It had already been a long and dry year in the Midwest by the end of summer 1871. The drought was severe; the wind was high; the temperature was elevated. On Sunday October the 8th, a wildfire ignited in Michigan, burning a path through the cities of Holland, Grand Rapids, South Haven, Manistee and Port Huron, spreading over 4,000 sq. miles, and killing over 500 people.
A fire on the same day sweeping through Wisconsin claimed the lives of 1,200 when it burned 17 towns and 1.2 million acres of land, making it the deadliest wildfire in US History.
That evening in Chicago, the downtown area remained warm and dangerously dry. Since July 4th, there had been a single inch of rain. In this dense, urban area, a small fire began, where most buildings were made of wood, most sidewalks were made of wood, most streets were made of wood. Propelled by high winds, the fire and its embers tore through 17,000 buildings, killed 300 residents, left 100,000 homeless and caused $3.7 billion of damage in 2016 dollars. By the end of it all, it would be the single deadliest day of fires ever recorded.
Since 1922 we have observed the anniversary of these events, commemorating those who lost their lives, property and cities in the devastating wake of fire. In the 148 years since there have been fire code reforms, catastrophes, new fire codes, new catastrophes and updated fire codes. We are reminded that the preservation of life and property requires learning from the past and implementing public safeguards, like fire safety education and fire code enforcement, to reduce the risk of fire to our community.
This year's theme encourages us all to Plan and Practice Your Escape.
The National Fire Protection Association and the US Fire Administration provide four reasons for this year’s message:
Fire Is FAST -In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in half.
Fire is HOT -If you inhale the super-hot air in a home fire, it will scorch the inside of your lungs.
Fire is DARK -If you wake up to a fire, you may be blinded, disoriented, and unable to find your way around.
Fire is DEADLY -The odorless, colorless fumes from a home fire can lull you into a deep sleep. You may not wake up in time to escape.
A home fire Escape Plan should have a map of your home’s rooms, doors and windows, identifying two ways out of each room, naming a meeting place for escaped family members, and a test to ensure all smoke alarms are operational.
Escape Practice starts with gathering your family, sounding the alarm, closing doors behind you, crawling low under smoke, never going back inside, heading to the meeting place, and calling 911.
Knowing that fire is Fast, Hot, Dark and Deadly, we encourage you to Plan and Practice Your Escape with your family.