FFD commemorates Fire Prevention week Oct. 6-12
Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 6-12 and this year’s theme is kitchen fire safety.
Over the past five years, the Franklin Fire Department has responded to more than 65 fires that originated in the kitchen, according to a spokesman. The direct property loss is nearly half a million dollars and several of these fires have resulted in serious injuries. Nearly all were preventable.
Each first week of October, the nation’s fire service doubles their efforts on public fire safety education. Personnel visit schools and day care centers, provide speakers for community groups and host a fire prevention parade, promoting fire safety.
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire. That tragic 1871 conflagration 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 Oct. 8 but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9.
According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow belonging to a Mrs. O’Leary kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn then the whole city on fire. People have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O’Leary for more than 130 years.
The ‘Moo’ Myth
Like any good story, the ‘case of the cow’ has some truth to it. The great fire almost certainly started near the barn where Mrs. O’Leary kept her five milking cows. But there is no proof that O’Leary was in the barn when the fire broke out. O’Leary herself swore that she’d been in bed early that night, and that the cows were also tucked in for the evening.
The biggest blaze
While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze to start during this fiery two-day stretch, it wasn’t the biggest. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. The fire, which also occurred on Oct. 8, 1871, roared through northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended.
Historical accounts of the fire say that the blaze began when several railroad workers clearing land for tracks unintentionally started a brush fire. Before long, the fast-moving flames were whipping through the area ‘like a tornado,’ some survivors said. It was the small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin that suffered the worst damage. Within an hour, the entire town had been destroyed.
of fire prevention
Those who survived the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot what they had been through; both blazes produced countless 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 (today known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should henceforth be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention. The commemoration grew incrementally official over the years.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922 Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls. 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.
Franklin Fire Chief Chuck Bourgeois encourages everyone to have an operational smoke detector and be especially careful in the kitchen. Please check your smoke detectors batteries and practice fire safety. If you need help checking your smoke detector, call the fire station at 337-828-6328.