Monday, October 6, 2008 - 9:43am
The City of Madison Fire Department is inviting the community to get involved in fire prevention and safety to mark Fire Prevention Week.
The week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. That fire 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 and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.
While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze to start during this fiery two-day stretch, it wasn't the biggest. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. The fire, which also occurred on October 8th, 1871, roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended.Those fires changed the way that firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety.
On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (today known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.
Throughout October, the Department's Community Education Unit is visiting the City's elementary schools with a baseball-themed safety presentation. Students in grades K-3 will find a miniature baseball diamond set up with "coaches" at each base to share information on key safety concepts. The ultimate goal - just as in baseball - to be "Safe at Home".
The Department will also open all 11 City firehouses to the public on Saturday, October 11, from 9-11 a.m.The City of Madison Fire Department encourages everyone to take simple steps to ensure home safety:
1. Check your smoke detectors each month - Change the batteries when you change your clocks.
2. Make an escape plan for emergencies and make sure everyone knows the plan.
3. Practice your plan at home.
- Lori Wirth, 608-266-5947