UNION COUNTY — Fire Prevention Week begins Sunday and runs through next Saturday when the Union County Firefighters Association will hold its annual Fire Prevention Day parade and celebration.
Fire Prevention Week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire which burned from Oct. 8-Oct. 10, 1871, killing up to 300 people, destroying 3.3 miles of Chicago, Illinois, and leaving more than 100,000 people homeless. Forty years later, in 1911, the Fire Marshals Association of North America observed the anniversary of the fire by sponsoring the first National Fire Prevention Day. The goal of the event was to keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.
In 1919, the National Fire Protection Association, at the invitation of the Dominion Fire Prevention Association, held its 23rd annual meeting in Ottawa, Canada. During the meeting, both organizations approved resolutions urging the American and Canadian governments to support the campaign for a common Fire Prevention Day. This was expanded to Fire Prevention Week in 1922. The non-profit NFPA, which has officially sponsored Fire Prevention Week since its inception, selects the annual theme for Fire Prevention Week.
In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week for the week of October 4-10. In issuing the proclamation, Coolidge noted that in the 1924 some 15,000 lives had been lost to fire in the United States. Calling the loss “startling,” Coolidge’s proclamation stated: “This waste results from the conditions which justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented… It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions which have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth.”
Fire Prevention Week is now held from Sunday to Saturday during the week Oct. 9 falls.
As they have in previous years, the Union County Firefighters Association is celebrating Fire Prevention Week with Fire Prevention Day which will be held Saturday, Oct. 15.
Firefighters Association Vice President and Santuc Fire Chief Mark Wade and Lockhart Fire Chief Lee Brannon said that this year’s event will get under way at 11 a.m. with a parade of fire trucks. The parade will begin at the Union County YMCA and travel along Main Street to US 176 and end at Walmart. The parade will include fire trucks from all county fire departments.
The parade will end at the Walmart parking lot but the celebration will be just beginning.
Brannon and Wade said that the celebration at the Walmart parking lot will include:
• A free fire truck tour for the kids.
• Free material about fire along some goodies for the children.
• Fire photo with some of the firefighters and their gear.
• A car extraction demonstration.
• The 5th Annual Firefighter Corn Hole Tournament of Champions contest between each fire department in the county along with the EMS and the Sheriff’s Office.
While the parade and celebration will be a time of fun for everyone in attendance, Brannon and Wade said there is a serious purpose to the event as well.
They said that the Firefighters Association and the county’s fire departments are stressing the importance of people having functioning smoke detectors in their homes. Brannon and Wade said that the Red Cross urges the public to have a smoke detector in each bedroom and each living room of the house.
In addition to Fire Prevention Day, Brannon and Wade said the county’s firefighters will be going in to the county’s schools to talk to children about the importance of smoke detectors. They will also be talking to them about how it is important to always have a plan of action for when there is a fire including a place where all family members are to meet to make sure everyone is out of the building and stays out until the fire is extinguished.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.