The history of National Fire Prevention Week has it roots
in the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 9, 1871.
This tragic conflagration killed some 300 people, left 100,000
homeless and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. The origin
of the fire has generated speculation since its occurrence,
with the fact and fiction becoming blurred over the years.
One popular legend has it that Mrs O'Leary was milking her
cow when the animal kicked over a lamp, setting the O'Leary
barn on fire and starting the spectacular blaze. How ever
the massive fire began, it swiftly took its toll, burning
more than 2000 acres in 27 hours.
The City of Chicago quickly
rebuilt, however, and within a couple of years residents
began celebrating their successful restoration to memorialize
the anniversary of
the fire with festivities.
Intending to observe the fire's anniversary with a more
the Fire Marshals Association of North
America (FMANA), the oldest membership section of the National
Fire Protection Association (NFPA), decided that the 40th
anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed
not with festivities,
but in a way that would keep the public
informed about the importance of fire
When President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National
Fire Prevention Week,
October 4 - 10 1925, he noted that
in the previous year some 15,000 lives were
lost to fire in the United States. Calling the loss "startling," President
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.
is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the
conditions which have made possible so vast a destruction
of the national wealth".
The Zion Fire / Rescue Department continues
today to make National Fire Prevention Week a priority and
counts on the participation and efforts of all
young and old, working to reduce the risk of fire and the
toll it takes
on our city.