NATIONWIDE – The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), founded on November 6, 1896, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week (FPW), which it established in …
NATIONWIDE – The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), founded on November 6, 1896, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week (FPW), which it established in 1922.
FPW is observed each year during the week of October 9. It marks the Great Chicago Fire, which started on October 8, 1871, and caused extensive property damage and tragic loss of life.
This year, FPW is celebrated from Sunday, October 9 through Saturday, October 15, but the entire month of October is considered Fire Prevention Month.
In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation that made Fire Prevention Week a national observance.
According to historical records, the Great Chicago Fire killed more than 300 people, left an estimated 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and consumed 2.000 acres of land.
Popular belief holds that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in a barn, but others claim that the disastrous fire was ignited when a group of men gambling inside the barn knocked over the lantern. Others speculate that the blaze was related to other fires in the area that fateful day.
Regardless of the actual cause of the deadly inferno, it spread rapidly from the point of origin, leaping the south branch of the Chicago River, destroying much of the central part of the city, then consuming the near North Side, until it was finally brought under control. It caused roughly $200 million in damages (about $0.5 billion in today’s dollars).
The theme of the 2022 Fire Prevention Week is “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.”
As part of its fire-safety campaign this year, the NFPA said, “Today’s homes burn faster than ever. You may have as little as two minutes (or even less time) to safely escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Your ability to get out of a home during a fire depends on [the] early warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.”
The group adds, “It is important for everyone to plan and practice a home fire escape. Everyone needs to be prepared in advance, so that they can know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Given that every home is different, a fire escape plan will also be different.”
The NFPA press release emphasized the importance of having a fire-escape plan designed for all residents of a home—children, adults and those with disabilities who “may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will help them!”
Fire-safety education isn’t just for kids in school, stated the NFPA. “Teenagers, adults and the elderly are also at risk in fires, making it important for every member of the community to take some time every October during Fire Prevention Week to make sure they understand how to stay safe in case of a fire.”
According to the NFPA, the most important step is fire alarms, and the second-most is to create a home escape plan designed for your particular residence.
In its publication titled “How to make a Home Fire Escape Plan” (available free online at www.nfpa.org/images/fpw/pdfs/FPW18Grid.pdf), the organization tells you how to make the plan, how to draw a map of your dwelling, and much more.
For information about the NFPA and to access its extensive inventory of fire prevention and safety information, visit nfpa.org or call 800/344-3555.
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