It's Time to Get Ready For Fire Prevention Week

On Oct. 9, 1871, a conflagration occurred in the United States known as the Great Chicago Fire. It lasted for 27 hours, killed more than 250 people, left more than 100,000 people homeless and destroyed nearly 18,000 buildings.

On the fire’s 40th anniversary, fire officials from across the country sponsored the first National Fire Prevention Day, advocating an annual observance about fire safety and education. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation. Since 1922, National Fire Prevention Week has been observed Sunday through Saturday of the week in which Oct. 9 falls. In addition, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation pronouncing a national Fire Prevention Week every year since 1925.


Smoke alarms advocated

Fire Prevention Week is the longest-running public safety awareness campaign in U.S. history. For most of those years, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has spearheaded Fire Prevention Week with a theme and a poster. This year, Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 5-11. The theme is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives – Test Yours Every Month,” which points out the importance of working smoke alarms and to test them each month.

The NFPA has a dedicated website – – with information and materials available to promote Fire Prevention Week in your community. Also, check out the NFPA’s for apps, music videos, an e-book and lesson plans to use in your local schools for Fire Prevention Week.

The NFPA provides materials you can print out free of charge. Its website,, includes fire safety tip sheets and handouts that can be used by the fire service. To tailor information to your community, print local fire department information on the back of the tip sheet.

All departments – volunteer, combination and career – should participate in Fire Prevention Week. But don’t wait until the last minute to get ready. I usually start working on Fire Prevention Week in July. No matter what you plan to do, you need adequate time to prepare.

If you are ordering materials and want to use standard shipping to save money and you want your materials to arrive at least two weeks in advance of Fire Prevention Week, I suggest you place your order no later than Sept. 15. Another option is overnight shipping. I prefer ordering early and using the money I would have spent on overnight shipping for extra Fire Prevention Week materials.

You may want the mayor, city council or county commission to issue a Fire Prevention Week proclamation. In most cases, elected officials’ meeting agendas are made two weeks in advance. It is not unusual to ask to be placed on the agenda weeks, if not months, in advance. I recommend you ask to be placed on the agenda no later than August. You will also need to prepare the proclamation to be issued.

Working with the news media is a good way to promote Fire Prevention Week. Contact your local media and ask if they would be interested in providing news coverage of Fire Prevention Week. Whether it is an article in the local newspaper, a notice on its website or a TV news story, you need adequate time to prepare it. I recommend that you meet with your local media no later than Sept. 1.