Fire Prevention Week has been observed in October every year since 1922. It is a time when firefighters and experts often visit classrooms to talk about fire prevention and fire safety, and some students get to tour fire stations and explore fire engines. The Stockton Fire Department Fire Prevention Division, in partnership with the Children's Museum, hosts a Fire Prevention Fair. Some themes for the week over the years include Fire Hurts; Help Stop Fire; Fire Drills Save Lives at Home, at School and at Work; and Fire Won't Wait ... Plan Your Escape.
Fire Prevention Week falls around October 9th, because the week was created to commemorate the tragic Chicago fire of 1871. In this huge fire, hundreds of people were killed, nearly 20,000 structures were destroyed, land was burned and 100,000 people were left homeless. Even though the fire started on October 8th, the majority of damage happened on October 9th.
Another fire that also happened that same week was the Peshtigo forest fire. It was the most destructive fire in America. There were 16 towns destroyed, over 1,000 people killed, and over a million acres burned.
On the 40th anniversary of these fires, the Fire Marshals Association of North America, now the International Fire Marshals Association, decided that it was time to educate the public about fire safety and fire prevention. President Woodrow Wilson made the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation in 1920, which grew into the week we observed today.
Even the youngest children learn during fire prevention week. As children get older, more details and instruction are provided. One element involves smoke alarms and teaches steps to take when a smoke alarm goes off, such as safely leaving the area and not returning. Students also learn about having an escape plan at home and how important smoke alarm testing is for the family.
Teachers and special guests teach fire prevention through reading books and poems, singing songs and fun activities, such as interactive games. Sparky the Fire Dog has been the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) official mascot since March 18, 1951. He is dedicated to keeping children safe by teaching fire prevention and safety. You can visit Sparky the Fire Dog's official website by clicking on the link under External Links below.
Prevention is the first step in fire safety. If students are taught not to play with matches and lighters and abide by this lesson, fires may be prevented. Even with this training, fires do happen and the next step is to teach rules for using fire safely, including times when fire is part of the recreation or activity, such camping.
Students are introduced to fire safety drills in school, but there is more to fire safety, such as stop, drop and roll. They learn what to do in case their clothes catch on fire. They make sure students understand to get low to the floor and crawl out of an area if there is intense smoke present. Another tip is to not hide during a fire as escape is best, but if escape is not possible then firefighters can't save you if they can't see you.
If you have questions, please contact the Stockton Fire Department Fire Prevention Division.
This City of Stockton webpage last reviewed on --- 3/21/2011