Fire Prevention Week 2017 - Every Second Counts

  • Published
  • By Terry Reilly, Assistant Chief - Fire Prevention and Inspections
  • 187th Fire and Emergency Services

(Article submitted by Terry Reilly, 187th Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Chief)

The goal of fire prevention is to educate the public to take precautions to prevent potentially harmful fires, and to educate about surviving them. It is a proactive method of reducing emergencies and the damage caused by them.

Fire protection is the study and practice of mitigating the unwanted effects of potentially destructive fires. In the event of fire emergencies, firefighters, fire investigators, and other fire prevention personnel are called to mitigate, investigate and learn from the damage of a fire.

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 October 9 falls.

President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week on October 4-10, 1925, beginning a tradition of the President of the United States signing a proclamation recognizing the occasion. It is observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls, in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began October 8, 1871, and did most of its damage October 9. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.

The horrific fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.
Another fire was The Peshtigo Fire, it was the most devastating forest fire in American history in Peshtigo, Wisconsin but because of the attention drawn by the Great Chicago Fire it drew little attention outside of the region.

The Peshtigo Fire, which also occurred on October 8th, 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 Peshtigo 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.

In an emergency and in any type of fire, “Every Second Counts”: that’s why you should “Plan 2 Ways Out!” That is this year’s National Fire Protection Association theme. This helps reinforce why everyone needs to have and know their emergency plans at home and or at work.

Do you remember last year’s theme? It was “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” Well if you did this last year, this will add in the chances of you getting the early warning notification to make “Every Second Count: Plan 2 Ways Out!” This could mean the difference between life and death.

Everyone should have a plan on what to do in case of an “emergency.” This should be well documented. It should include the use of picture, drawings, and practiced at least twice a year. The whole family should know what to do and where to go in case of any emergency. Another recommended practice should be to practice your “emergency plan” both during day time and at night because everything looks a whole lot different at night.

Just like at home, your work place should be just as well equipped with an emergency plan. Here at the 187th Fighter Wing, it is mandatory per the regulation. Your Safety office and the Fire Prevention Section are the two primary resources to assist you!

Some of the keys to having a safe workplace and at home are:
1. Keep work area free of waste paper, trash, and any other items that can easily catch fire.
2. Electrical cords should be in good working order, not daisy chained with a surge protector, or used as permanent wiring.
3. Use the right size cord with the equipment you’re using.
4. Don’t overload your circuits.
5. Unplug and/or turn off electrical appliances and equipment when not in use. Be sure to double check at the end of your workday.
6. Keep anything that might burn away from heat producing equipment; open flames, and space heaters.
7. All appliances are required to be plugged directly into a wall outlet and not a surge protector or an extension cord.

If at any time you do have an emergency and need to evacuate while at the workplace or at home you should go to your designated meeting area, take accountability of everyone, and call 911. Once you are out, stay out!

This year’s Fire Prevention week was Oct 08-14: “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” You may have seen the banners and signs displayed on base. If you happen to see me around base, be sure and ask for a fire prevention package to help your family is safe at home.