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Fire Safety begins at home. Every family should know the basics of how to prevent fires at home and what to do in case there is a fire. The Fire Department's Office of Fire Safety Education has prepared several brochures to help the whole family learn about what steps to take to ensure that everyone's home is fire-safe. So, invest a few minutes and learn how to BE SAFE!

Great Chicago Fire

Fire Prevention Week marks the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of October 8-9, 1871.

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 on 26 square miles and over 2,000 acres burned in 27 hours causing more than $200 million (in 19th century dollars) worth of property damage.  The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.

According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow - belonging to Mrs. Catherine O'Leary - kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire.  Chances are you've heard some version of this story yourself, people have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O'Leary, for more than 130 years.  But recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this version of events.  The great fire almost certainly started near the barn where Mrs. O'Leary kept her 5 milking cows, but, there is no proof that Mrs. O'Leary was in the barn when the fire broke out.

On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshal's Association of North America (today known as the International Fire Marshal's Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should henceforth be observed 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.  The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.

Each October, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sponsors a fire prevention campaign. Fire Prevention Week will be October 4 -10, 2015. This year's theme is "Hear The Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs A Working Smoke Alarm".  Did you know that many people don't test their smoke alarms as often as they should?  When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast.  You need working smoke alarms to give you time to get out.  Test yours every month!


Smokey Bear Information

Pennsylvania DCNR

Wisconsin DNR's Vault Story of Smokey's Name

U.S. Forest Service


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Fire Prevention for Kids


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