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.
On that same evening of October 8, 1871 (not very people know of) the Peshtigo fire, the worst recorded forest fire in North American history raged through Northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, destroying millions of dollars in property and timberland, and taking between 1,200 and 2,400 lives.
In remembrance, every October Fire departments across the country plan and prepare for Fire Prevention Week.
North Lincoln Fire & Rescue firefighter’s has been visiting area schools October 5th thru 9th and will be continuing throughout the month. Firefighters will be on hand to discuss everything from kitchen fire safety, what to say when you call 911, to home sprinkler systems, learn about “get low and go” and “get out and stay out” and of course, smoke alarms. The big message this year is a “working smoke alarm” in every home and every bedroom. Firefighters will be visiting Taft Elementary School, Faith Baptist, Lincoln City Adventists, Head Start and many other locations this month.
When your children come home with some simple fire safety information, please go over it with them, and make a fire escape plan, check and/or install a smoke alarm, and walk through your home looking for potential fire hazards. With a little extra caution, preventing eliminating the leading causes of home fires – cooking, heating, electrical and smoking materials – is within your power. Your home should be a safe haven, make a habit of regularly checking for home fire hazards? If not, there is the potential for danger.
Fire departments responded to approximately 400,000 home fires annually. In Oregon the State Fire Marshal’s Office (OSFM) created nearly a decade ago the Oregon Life Safety Team (or OLST, which I am a member), this group of fire prevention professionals’ include fire educators, members of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the Oregon Burn Center and other advocates of fire and life safety; meet once a month in Salem at OSFM office to discuss what life safety trends we are seeing and what preventative steps individuals can take to reduce their risks.
This group does not only deal with fire safety but elder care regarding falls, window fall safety, product safety and beach and waterway safety. In Oregon we produce many of our own materials that are specific to our concerns and augment the programs from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association).
Capt. Jim Kusz
North Lincoln Fire Rescue