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 Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871.
Focusing on having an exit plan in the home or work place, should a fire break out, is the emphasis of the 2012 Fire Prevention Week, said Eureka Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Scott Mullins.
Home and buildings could be engulfed in smoke and flames in just a few minutes, said Mullins, which is why it is important to practice exit strategies.
Mullins and Eureka district inspector Sheila Frost, indicated this year's local fire prevention activities will include:
Oct. 4: At 11:30 a.m. firefighters will have lunch with the Eureka Parks and Recreation Department Seniors Group in the Eureka Community Center.
Oct. 10: At 10 a.m. firefighters will conduct a fire safety talk to St. Mark’s Lutheran preschoolers on fire safety.
Oct. 12: Firefighters will be at Creative Expressions Daycare handing out fire safety information with the truck at the facility's Fall Festival, an event that starts at 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 13: Firefighters will attend Marymount Manor for their family day, including taking a fire truck. Firefighters also will attend portions of Eureka's Harvest Moon Festival from 2-9 p.m. at Legion Park.
"Our big event will be Nov. 3, when we will pick an area and go door-to-door checking smoke alarms and changing batteries," said Frost.
In 1920, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.