Fire Prevention Week is upon us once again. Every year, the week of October 9th, fire departments across the nation will be participating in fire prevention week activities.
Fire Prevention Week started in 1922 to commemorate The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed over 17,000 structures burning more than 2000 acres. Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The President has made a proclamation of the observance every year since 1925.
Each year NFPA sets the theme or campaign for week in an area of fire safety. This year’s theme is Have 2 way out. Themes in past years have been: Protect your family from fire, Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with, When fire strikes: Get out, stay out, and the list goes on. You can see the area of focus each year.
So, knowing when Fire Prevention Week is, why it started, and what its goal is, hear is my question to you. Why focus on fire prevention for just 1 week out of the year? For some departments that one week is the only time they think about fire prevention and getting out in the community and talking about fire safety. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of great information is given out in that 1 week and could save a life in the event of a fire, but don’t the citizens of your community deserve to have lifesaving information presented to them 52 weeks a year?
Fires don’t just happen 1 week out of the year and take a 51 week vacation and neither should your fire prevention efforts. It should be our goal as firefighters to educate the public every chance we get.
I’m not saying that every week or every month you need some big elaborate event or theme, but get creative. Go by your child’s school with a pumper, swing by little league practice and talk to the kids afterwards, while out pre-planning or while doing tactical survey, stop by the senior center and talk or answer questions, or have a station open house for the public to come to you. There are so many opportunities out there to get lifesaving information to the citizens you serve. I know that public education is the first thing to get cut when budget time rolls around, but most of these will make the Brass happy because they don’t cost anything but a little time and want to.
So here is my challenge to you. Those other 51weeks during the year make those Fire Prevention Weeks too! You never know, that mom and dad, or child you talk to in March, could be a fire survivor in July, instead of a fire fatality all because you took the time to talk to them about fire safety. You don’t have to wait until January 1st, start now! Let’s make every week Fire Prevention Week. Are you up to the challenge?