NATIONAL FIRE PREVENTION WEEK
On Oct. 9, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire started. This tragic fire killed
some 300 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,000
structures. One popular legend claims that Mrs. Catherine O'Leary was
milking her cow when the animal kicked over a lamp, set the O'Leary's
barn on fire and started the fiery conflagration. The city of Chicago
was fast to rebuild and soon began to remember the event with festivities.
The Fire Marshals Association of North America believed the 40th
anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a way
that would keep the public aware of the importance of fire prevention.
On Oct. 9, 1911, FMANA sponsored the first National Prevention Day.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first national Fire
Prevention Day proclamation. By 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed
the first National Fire Prevention Week, which was Oct. 4-10, 1925.
He noted that in the previous year approximately 15,000 lives had
been lost to fire in the United States. President Coolidge's proclamation
stated, "This waste results from conditions that justify a sense of
shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be
prevented.... It is highly desirable that every effort be made to
reform the conditions that have made possible so vast a destruction
of the national wealth."
Fire Prevention Week is always the week in which Oct. 9 falls.
Each year, a specific theme is chosen and is commemorated throughout
the United States. For 2004, Fire Prevention Week is October 3-9 and
the theme is "Test Your Smoke Alarms."
Visit the official
web site of National Fire Prevention Week for more information.