National Fire Prevention Week

Fire Chief

Stan Sharp
ssharp@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 595-4480

900 E. Hill Ave., Suite 430
Knoxville, TN 37915

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National Fire Prevention Week

On Oct. 9, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire started. This tragic fire killed some 300 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. One popular legend claims that Mrs. Catherine O'Leary was milking her cow when the animal kicked over a lamp, set the O'Leary's barn on fire and started the fiery conflagration. The city of Chicago was fast to rebuild and soon began to remember the event with festivities.

The Fire Marshals Association of North America believed the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a way that would keep the public aware of the importance of fire prevention. On Oct. 9, 1911, FMANA sponsored the first National Prevention Day.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first national Fire Prevention Day proclamation. By 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week, which was Oct. 4-10, 1925. He noted that in the previous year approximately 15,000 lives had been lost to fire in the United States. President Coolidge's proclamation stated, "This waste results from conditions that 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 that have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth."

National Fire Prevention Week is always the week in which Oct. 9 falls. Each year, a specific theme is chosen and is commemorated throughout the United States. For 2004, Fire Prevention Week is October 3-9 and the theme is "Test Your Smoke Alarms."

Visit the official web site of National Fire Prevention Week for more information.