National Fire Prevention Week is on the way. Every year at this time, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) dedicates a special week of activities to focus public attention on the crucial topic of fire prevention. This year, Fire Prevention Week falls on October 6-12.
The NFPA (the folks who make the fire codes and standards) began the tradition of observing a week dedicated to fire safety way back in the 1920s, timed to coincide each year with the anniversary of the most damaging fire in American history, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. That historic blaze killed some 300 people, left more than 100,000 homeless, and caused an estimated $200 million worth of property damage (or about $5 billion in today’s terms). Initially, an urban legend spread that the fire had been started by a cow (owned by a lady named Catherine O’Leary) kicking over a kerosene lantern in a barn located on Chicago’s DeKoven Street. Books and movies (and even songs) perpetuated the popular story; but historic research over the years has debunked the myth, and today historians are unsure of what actually started the blaze.
Regardless of its cause, the Great Chicago Fire brought about nationwide interest in fire safety in the late Nineteenth Century that led to major changes in U.S. building construction practices and fire prevention regulations. As its 50th anniversary approached, Pres. Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation; and ever since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday in which October 9 falls, according to the NFPA.*
Each year, the NFPA selects a theme for the week, to sharpen the public’s focus. This year’s theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires” – and the NFPA intends to emphasize that “more fires start in the kitchen than in any other part of the home.” The world’s leading advocate of fire prevention promises to sound the warning that we can all help in reducing the risk of these types of fires.
As part of this year’s activities, the NFPA will be holding a Fire Prevention Week Contest in which contestants complete a short quiz on fire safety and qualify for a random drawing to win an Apple® iPad Mini®. Plus, there are slew of other activities for kids, parents and teachers.
So, let’s do what we can to support Fire Prevention Week in October. After all, it’s what Fox Valley Fire & Safety is all about.
*Reproduced from NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week website, www.firepreventionweek.org. ©2013 NFPA.