National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7-13

  • Published
  • By Col. Anthony Higdon
  • Eglin Fire Marshall
Eglin Air Force Fire & Emergency Services Flight will join fire departments across the nation to commemorate National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13.

Fire Prevention Week is a time to check evacuation plans at home and in the workplace to ensure the safety of loved ones and co-workers. It is also a time to check and eliminate hidden hazards and prepare families and co-workers for any emergency. Finally, it is a great time to make sure all sleeping areas are equipped with smoke detectors, checking them at least semi-annually to ensure they work properly if a fire should occur.

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which happened in October 1871. It 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 Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage Oct. 9.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 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.

This year's theme, "Have 2 Ways Out," and is designed to educate people about the importance of having two ways out of a home in case of a fire. Many people underestimate how fast a fire spreads, so they do not take escape planning seriously.

Uncontrolled fire can destroy homes, possessions, and lives. In 2010, home fires were reported every 85 seconds, killing 2,640 people and injuring 13,350. The reality is when fire strikes, a home could be engulfed in smoke and flames in just a few minutes. A home fire escape plan can prepare a family to think fast and exit quickly when the smoke alarm sounds. Smoke or flames can block a single escape route. Having '2 ways out' of every room should be a key part of a fire escape plan.

The F&ES Flight and the National Fire Protection Association, offer the following information to better prepare families to escape a home fire.
  • Draw a floor plan, showing all doors and windows.
  • Visit each room and find two ways out, then mark them on the plan.
  • Choose a specific outside meeting place a safe distance from your home and mark it on the escape plan.
  • Learn the emergency phone number for your fire department (9-1-1).
  • Practice the plan with everyone in your home twice a year.
  • Practice during the day and night.
  • Practice using different ways.
  • Practice getting low and going under the smoke where the air is clearer.
  • The following are recommended steps to make a home escape ready.
  • Install smoke alarms and test them monthly to make sure they work properly.
  • Insure all doors and windows open easily.
  • Insure a house or building number is visible from the street.
The NFPA reports in 2010, fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,350 injuries and $6.9 billion in direct damage. Among other findings were:
  • Cooking was the leading cause of home structure fires and home injuries.
  • Kitchens are the leading areas of origin for home structure fires (37 percent) and home fire injuries (36 percent).
  • Smoking is a leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke or no working alarms.
  • Home fires peak around dinner hours, between 5 -8 p.m.
  • Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2010, 19 home fires killed five or more people. These 19 fires resulted in 101 deaths.
  • Please do your part to help lower these statistics. We do not want any of our Team Eglin personnel or anyone in the surrounding communities to fall victim to fire for lack of a plan. Have a plan and practice that plan so that every family member knows his or her responsibilities. Do not forget to brief the plan to any friends or relatives that may be staying overnight.
Call the Eglin Fire Prevention Office at 882-3229, extension 5, with any fire-related questions.

The following is a schedule of Eglin's Fire Prevention Week events:

Oct. 9
6:30 -7:30 a.m. - Welcome personnel to work, East Gate
8 -10 a.m. - Commanders vs. First Sergeants challenge
8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. - open house at Fire Station 3
10 a.m. - noon - Eagles vs. Chiefs challenge

Oct. 10
6:30-7:30 a.m. - Welcome personnel to work, West Gate
8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. - open house at Fire Station 3
9:30-11:30 a.m. - Hazard House display, Eglin Elementary School
10 a.m.-noon - Safety Awareness Table, Bob Hope Village

Oct. 11
6:30-7:15 a.m. - Welcome personnel to work, Northwest Gate
8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. - open house at Fire Station 3
9-9:45 a.m. - Fire Drill, Eglin Elementary School
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. - Safety Awareness Table, Eglin Commissary

Oct. 12
10 a.m.-3 p.m. - Fire Prevention Day, Main Exchange
10:30 a.m. -noon - Safety Awareness Table, Main Exchange
11 a.m.- noon - Auto Extrication, Main Exchange
Noon -2 p.m. - Fire Muster Challenge, Main Exchange

For more information on the above events, call the Eglin Fire Prevention Office at 882-3229.