Fire Prevention Week 2014: October 5-11
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.
Commemorating a conflagration
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 'Moo' myth
Like any good story, the 'case of the cow' has some truth to it. The great fire almost certainly started near the barn where Mrs. O'Leary kept her five milking cows. But there is no proof that O'Leary was in the barn when the fire broke out - or that a jumpy cow sparked the blaze. Mrs. O'Leary herself swore that she'd been in bed early that night, and that the cows were also tucked in for the evening.
But if a cow wasn't to blame for the huge fire, what was? Over the years, journalists and historians have offered plenty of theories. Some blamed the blaze on a couple of neighborhood boys who were near the barn sneaking cigarettes. Others believed that a neighbor of the O'Leary's may have started the fire. Some people have speculated that a fiery meteorite may have fallen to earth on October 8, starting several fires that day - in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Chicago.
The biggest blaze that week
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, and roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended.
Historical accounts of the fire say that the blaze began when several railroad workers clearing land for tracks unintentionally started a brush fire. Before long, the fast-moving flames were whipping through the area 'like a tornado,' some survivors said. It was the small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin that suffered the worst damage. Within an hour, the entire town had been destroyed.
Nine decades of fire prevention
Those who survived the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot what they'd been through; both blazes produced countless tales of bravery and heroism. But the fires also 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 henceforth be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention. The commemoration grew incrementally official over the years.
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.
2014 Fire Prevention Week Theme:
2014 Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month
Firescience.org - Training, Education and Hiring Website for Alaska
FireScience.org, an organization dedicated to providing career and education information for the Fire Science community, recently launched a Alaska guide focused on providing career and education information. We provide a list of schools and programs from the U.S. federal government National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which contains a database of accredited Fire Science / Prevention / Safety Technology majors. We also have interviewed fire experts from various departments, and highlighted a few select schools. On the career side, we provide income tables in Alaska for Firefighters, Fire Inspectors / Investigators, and Fire Service Supervisors, talk about fire training, and also have a full section dedicated to Public Service Careers - see our top navigation.
Alaska State Fire Fighters Association Members Can Receive Discounted Kidde Products
The Kidde Fire Safety on-line store offers fire departments exclusive access to a variety of Kidde products at a discounted price. Other benefits of utilizing the store include faster checkout, access to special promotions such as free shipping on your first order, the ability to store multiple shipping addresses, the ability to view and track orders, access to educational and safety tips, and much more.
Currently the Kidde Fire Safety store is offering all association members 10% off your first order of 10 year smoke and CO alarms by simply using the code 10YEAR The discount is good through Dec. 31, 2014.
Visit www.KiddeFireStore.com to see the products associated with this special offer or to place an order through a dedicated, secure site. When ordering enter the coupon code 10YEAR at checkout to receive our association’s promotional discount.
NVFC Fire Prevention Award
Award sponsored by First Alert
For two decades, Jim Pickett has volunteered as a firefighter and fire prevention educator in Kodiak, AK, with a mission to make his community a better, safer place to live. Each year, he provides fire prevention presentations and station tours to over 500 children in local schools. In addition to building props and visuals for the presentations, Pickett raised funds to purchase a Sparky the Fire Dog® costume, 911 Simulator, and Hazard House to enhance the children’s program. He initiated a “Birthday Ride-Along with Sparky” to reward kids for fire-safe behavior. Pickett also established a smoke alarm installation program, receiving funding through the state to purchase and provide free smoke alarms to any members of the community who request one. He has installed as many as 900 alarms in one year.
Pickett’s safety and prevention outreach is not limited to fire: another key accomplishment in his service was implementing a citywide child injury prevention program, including car seat, bike, and pedestrian safety. Pickett secured children’s bike helmets, reflectors, and reflective zipper pulls for staying safe when walking or biking. He even keeps extra reflectors in his vehicle to give to children he sees by the road without one.
Pickett was named the Firefighter of the Year by the state of Alaska in 2011. He and his wife, Kiela, have two sons and four grandchildren, and have recently adopted one of their grandchildren.
Email List for ASFA Members:
The ASFA has started a new Email List Service. If you are interested in being added to the list please contact Robert Dennard to be added. This will be a way for the membership to get information out to other members. There will be some monitoring and you might have your posting privileges removed it there is spam or inappropriate emails distributed. Thanks.