Eglin prepares for Fire Prevention Week, honors tradition

  • Published
  • By Eglin Fire and Emergency Services
  • 96th Civil Engineer Squadron
Keeping with our nation's almost century-old tradition, Eglin's fire dogs are preparing for this year's Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4-10) with a full schedule of events for all to participate in.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day Proclamation and for more than 70 years, the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association officially sponsored and selected the theme for the national commemoration of Fire Prevention Week.
The history of National Fire Prevention Week has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 9 1871. This tragic conflagration killed some 300 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. Anniversary events are used increase awareness of the dangers of fire.

Fact and fiction about the details of the deadly blaze have became blurred over the years. Legend has it that Catherine O'Leary was milking her cow when the animal kicked over a lamp, setting the family barn on fire, starting a spectacular blaze.

This was the speculated origin of the massive fire that swiftly burned more than 2,000 acres in 27 hours. The city of Chicago quickly rebuilt and within a couple of years, residents began celebrating their successful restoration by memorializing the anniversary of the fire with festivities.

Intending to observe the fire's anniversary with a more serious commemoration, the Fire Marshal's Association of North America, the oldest membership section of the NFPA, decided the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention. On Oct. 9, 1911, FMANA sponsored their first National Fire Prevention Day.

Every year since 1925, the President of the United States has signed a proclamation pronouncing the Sunday through Saturday period that Oct. 9 falls, a national observance. When President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the First National Fire Prevention Week that year, he noted in the previous year some 15,000 lives were lost to fire in the U.S.

Calling the loss "startling," President Coolidge's proclamation stated, "This waste results from conditions which justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented...It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions which have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth."

The NFPA has led the way to fire safety since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is protecting people, their property and the environment from the effects of fire and related hazards through education, codes and standards, research and technical advisory services.

Eglin's Fire Prevention Week schedule is as follows:

Oct. 5
6:30 - 7:30 a.m. Welcome personnel to work at East Gate
8 a.m. - noon Commanders Challenge at military family housing
1 p.m - 4 p.m. Fire muster competition

Oct. 6
6:30 - 7:30 a.m. Welcome personnel to work at West Gate
9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Open house, Fire Station 3

Oct. 7
6:30 - 7:30 a.m. Welcome personnel to work at Air Combat Command Gate
9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Open house, Fire Station 3
10 a.m. - noon Safety awareness table, base commissary

Oct. 8
9 - 9:30 a.m. Fire Evacuation Drill, Cherokee Elementary
9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Open house, Fire Station 3
11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Safety awareness table, Base Exchange

Oct. 9
9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Open house, Fire Station 3
9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Hazard House Display in military family housing
11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Safety awareness table, Eglin Federal Credit Union