ALACHUA COUNTY, FL – The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed October 3rd-9th, 2010, as Fire Prevention Week in Alachua County. The theme for Fire Prevention Week this year is, “Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with.”
Fire Prevention Week is the annual time period set aside by fire departments throughout the country to focus the public’s attention on the tragedy and suffering caused by something that can be prevented. It’s a time when fire departments heighten their efforts to bring awareness citizens about how to prevent a fire in the home or work place, and how to escape if one occurs. The mission of the Alachua County Department of Public Safety is to “Improve the life, safety and protection of property through preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery.”
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which 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 Mrs. O'Leary’s cow kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze to start during this fiery two-day stretch, it wasn’t the biggest. The Peshtigo Fire, which also occurred on October 8th, 1871, was the most devastating forest fire in American history. It roared through Northeast Wisconsin and burned down 16 towns. Historical accounts say that the blaze began when railroad workers clearing land for tracks unintentionally started a brush fire. The small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin suffered the worst damage. Within an hour, the entire town had been destroyed. Those who survived never forgot what they'd been through; both blazes produced 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 (now known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed to keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has always been observed the Sunday through Saturday period during which October 9th falls.
This year we would like for people to:
· Make sure they have working smoke alarms in their homes by testing them once a month.
· Never leaver cooking unattended especially during the Thanksgiving Holiday.
· With the weather getting colder, use caution when operating space heaters and make sure they have a working safety shut off if it tips over. Also keep a clear area away from them for three feet in all directions.
· Never leave candles unattended and keep the wicks trimmed to 1/4 inch.
· If you have a live tree in your home this winter holiday season, make sure to keep is watered.
While The Alachua County Department of Public Safety stands at the ready to respond to any fire emergency, it still remains that the best fire is the one that never occurs.
For more information, contact Alachua County Department of Public Safety at 352-384-3101.