Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The fire took place over a span of two days, starting on October 8th and continuing into October 9th, when the majority of the damage took place.  The fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.  While the Great Chicago Fire is considered the most well-known blaze to start on October 8, 1871, it was far from the largest.  There was another fire that started on October 8th, 1871, the Peshtigo Fire in Northeast Wisconsin which is considered the most devastating forest fire in American History.  The Peshtigo Fire burnt down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people and scorched 1.2 million acres before it was put out.

On the 40th Anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the International Fire Marshals Association decided that the anniversary of these horrific fires should be observed with a way to keep people informed about the importance of fire prevention rather than celebrating it with festivities.  This led to President Woodrow Wilson issuing the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation in 1920.  Fire Prevention week is observed on the Sunday through Saturday that October 9th falls.  Something you may not know is that every year since 1925, The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week.

Each year since 1927, Fire Prevention Week has focused on a different ‘Theme’.  A few themes that have been focused on in the past are:

  • 2000 – Fire Drills: The Great Escape!
  • 2001 – Cover the Bases & Strike Out Fire
  • 2002 – Team Up for Fire Safety
  • 2003 – When Fire Strikes: Get Out! Stay Out!
  • 2004 – It’s Fire Prevention Week! Test Your Smoke Alarms
  • 2005 – Use Candles With Care
  • 2006 – Prevent Cooking Fires: Watch What You Heat
  • 2007 – It’s Fire Prevention Week! Practice Your Escape Plan
  • 2008 – It’s Fire Prevention Week! Prevent Home Fires
  • 2009 – Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned
  • 2010 – Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With
  • 2011 – It’s Fire Prevention Week! Protect Your Family From Fire!
  • 2012 – Have 2 Ways Out!
  • 2013 – Prevent Kitchen Fires
  • 2014 – Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month
  • 2015 – Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is, “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”.

Source: Reproduced from NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week website, ©2016 NFPA.

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