Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire. This fire occurred in 1871 and killed more than 250 people, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8th, but most of the damage occurred on October 9th, 1871. A larger fire also occurred at the same time as the Chicago fire. The Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history, roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls. Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.
The theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week is “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends replacing smoke alarms after 10 years because that is typically the life expectancy of the devices. After 10 years, the sensors in smoke alarms can begin to lose their sensitivity. To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date, not the date purchased. It is also recommended to test the fire alarms monthly and replace the batteries when we change our clocks in the spring and fall.
Smoke alarms should be installed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. The Parkersburg Fire Department has a smoke alarm program that it offers to the citizens of Parkersburg. The smoke alarms are free to qualifying residents. Once the qualifying survey is complete, the fire department will then install the smoke alarms for free. To see if you qualify for free smoke alarms, please call the fire department at 304-424-8470, between the hours of 08:00am and 04:30pm.
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