Fire Prevention Week was established in 1922 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire. This fire occurred in 1871, killing more than 250 people, destroying more than 17,400 structures. The fire also 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 “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends knowing two ways out of every room. If smoke or fire is blocking your first way out, use your second way out. Make a home escape plan. Bring everyone in your household together to make a home fire escape plan. Draw a map of each level of your home, show two ways out of each room. Choose an outside meeting place. This should be a safe distance in front of the home where everyone should meet. Practice your home fire escape drill with everyone in the household at least twice a year. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily. Clear away all items that block doors and windows. Practice during the day and at night.
A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Make sure everyone in your home knows the sound and understands the warning of the smoke alarm. Make sure everyone knows how to respond. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
Smoke alarms should be installed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. The 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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