Fire Prevention Week Scheduled for October 5-11 Published Sept. 23, 2008 By Robert C. Howard, Assistant Chief for Fire Prevention 127th Wing Fire Department Sep. 22, 2008 -- Your home should be a safe haven. But do you regularly check for home fire hazards? If not, there is the potential for danger. Fire departments responded to nearly 400,000 home fires in 2006. That's why the theme of Fire Prevention Week 2008 is "It's Fire Prevention Week: "Prevent Home Fires!" From October 5-11, 2008, Selfridge Fire Department will spread the word that with a little extra caution, preventing the leading causes of home fires - cooking, heating, electrical and smoking materials - is within your power. Commemorating a Conflagration Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that 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 October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow - belonging to Mrs. Catherine O'Leary - kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. Chances are you've heard some version of this story yourself; people have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O'Leary, for more than 130 years. The Biggest Blaze of October 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 October 8, 1871, and 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 whirling tornado. Eight Decades of Fire Prevention Those who survived the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot what they'd 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. Selfridge Fire Department Our Fire Prevention Section believes that fire safety begins with a positive mindset and the commitment to training. Throughout the week we will be celebrating by having an Open House on Monday with coffee and donuts at 8 a.m. with an opportunity to tour the fire station, look at the vehicles and equipment and meet the firefighters. Throughout the week there will be numerous activities, static displays at the BX and Commissary and training on how to extinguish a grease fire. For our support, during our random calling on base throughout the week if you answer your phone with a greeting like: "Good morning/afternoon, this is fire prevention week, Bob speaking..." we will give you a prize and deliver it to your work area. If you do not answer correctly when we call you, you will have a second chance to win by stating (when we ask) this years Fire Prevention Motto is... "Prevent Home Fires". We truly want to get the word out about fire safety and fire prevention, but we need your help to pass it along. Remember that fire extinguisher training is offered every Thursday, 9 a.m., at the Fire Department. For any further questions, contact Bob Howard at ext (586) 239-4363.