“Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!”
That is the official theme for Fire Prevention Week, 2010.
The week runs through this Saturday in the rest of the country, but for the Great Bend Fire Department, this is just the start of a month of fire prevention efforts.
According to information from the National Fire Protection Association — the agency that heads up the annual fire prevention efforts — the week was initiated to commemorate a horrible event.
“Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that 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,” according to NFPA information.
“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 Oct. 8, 1871, and roared through northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended.”
It was out of these horrible conflagrations and other great losses of life to fire that our nation developed this continuing effort to convince its children and, through their efforts, their parents, about the steps that can be taken to make homes safer.
The theme has continued, even if the technology has improved over the years.
“This year’s campaign is designed to educate people about the importance of smoke alarms and encourages everyone to take the steps necessary to update and maintain their home smoke alarm protection,” according to the NFPA information.
“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. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.”
Locally, the education effort will continue throughout this month, with fire fighters visiting schools and providing different programs for different ages, teaching our students how to be safe, according to Fire Chief Mike Napolitano.