Starting on Sunday, October 7th through Saturday, October 14th, all across the nation, fire departments will be promoting fire safety for the cities they serve in recognition of National Fire Prevention Week. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has announced that this year’s theme is “Have 2 Ways Out!”
National Fire Prevention Week was established in memory of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The great blaze killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into the next day, October 9, 1871, which resulted in even more damage.
There was also another fire that began on October 8th, 1871 – the Great Peshtigo Fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. The Peshtigo Fire was the most devastating forest fire in American history. The fire blazed through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended.
On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (known today as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be remembered in a way that would keep people educated about the importance of fire prevention. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first National Fire Prevention Day, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls.
This year’s theme, “Have 2 Ways Out!” focuses on having a home fire escape plan that prepares families to think fast and get out quickly when the smoke alarm sounds. It also emphasizes on having a plan b, in case the first route out is blocked by a blaze or heavy smoke. Fire departments all across the nation will be teaching the public on the importance of fire escape planning and practice using this year’s theme.
In learning about local events to help inform families about fire prevention and safety, please visit your local fire station. For more information about National Fire Prevention Week, visit the National Fire Prevention Association’s site at www.NFPA.org.