The history of Fire Prevention Week has it roots in the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 8, 1871. This tragic conflagration killed some 300 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. The origin of the fire has generated speculation since its occurrence, with the fact and fiction becoming blurred over the years. However the massive fire began, it swiftly took its toll, burning more than 2000 acres in 27 hours. The city of Chicago quickly rebuilt and within a couple of years residents began celebrating their successful restoration to memorialize the anniversary of the fire with festivities.
Intending to observe the fire anniversary with a more serious commemoration, the Fire Marshals Association of North America, the oldest membership section of the NFPA, decided that the 40th 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 safety.
When President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, 1925, he noted that in the previous year some 15,000 lives were lost to fire in the United States. Calling the loss “startling”, President Coolidge’s proclamation stated, “This waste results from the conditions which 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 which have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth”.
Fire Prevention Week Today
NFPA continues today to make National Fire Prevention Week a priority and counts on the participation and efforts of tens of thousands of fire and safety professionals, emergency volunteers, and other individuals working to reduce the risk of fire and the toll it takes on society.
Fire Prevention Week is an extremely busy time for the members of Dixon Fire Department. For many years, we have given fire safety presentations to all of the third graders in the city of Dixon. The duty shift goes to each school and provides activities, as well as, information on fire safety. We demonstrate how to stop, drop and roll, how to properly check a door for heat and how to safely exit a window. An activated smoke detector is also displayed and a firefighter’s gear is explained. The lessons are all put into practice utilizing our fire safety house. This allows the students to practice the skills they learned and experience how a smoke filled home may feel.
In 2007, members of the Dixon Fire Department began our annual pizza drive. Every night of Fire Prevention Week, in conjunction with the local pizza vendors, we check homes for working smoke detectors. Homes with properly installed and working detectors receive money off of their next pizza order.
Lastly, Dixon Fire Department working with Spectrum Brand batteries has established an annual battery exchange program. Every year the Dixon Fire Department receives batteries from Spectrum Brand in order to replace the old batteries from smoke detectors of citizens throughout the community. This is a very popular service and is used by many of our citizens.