Time Change Brings Alarm Check
- by Chief Pam San Fillippo
For the fire service October is pretty special…but not because of Halloween.
A barn, a lantern and a cranky cow = more than 250 deaths, 17,400 structures destroyed and 100,000 left homeless. For over 140 years Mrs. O’Leary’s poor cow has taken the blame for starting one of the largest fires in history — the Great Chicago Fire of October 9th, 1871. But on that very same day in 1871 the Peshtigo Fire occurred. It is not as well known as the Great Chicago Fire, yet it is the most devastating forest fire in American history. It roared through northeast Wisconsin burning down 16 towns (!), killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres of land.
Station House BSL
These fires are ancient history to most of us, but devastating fires still occur. In fact, home fires kill an average of 8 people each day and each year firefighters respond to over 350,000 house fires that result in $7 billion in direct damages. And these are statistics from residential fires — commercial and business, industrial, wildland, and forest fires aren’t included!
Along with the loss of civilian lives, homes, forests, and businesses, fires will also kill about 100 firefighters every year (and injure or disable thousands more). One-hundred men and women who went to work one morning and never made it home because they were trying to save a building, a house, a patch of forest and sometimes, a life.
More often than not these fires and deaths were completely preventable, if people had learned and followed the fire safety advice from the professionals and acted responsibly. So we ask you, please make sure that you and everyone in your family learns about fire safety and practice it every day. It literally can mean the difference between life and death for you and for us.
We’ve said it for decades, and it still holds true today: 3 out of 5 home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. That’s why we tell everyone: each year when the time changes, change your smoke alarm battery – for wired alarms, check your battery back-up and test your system. If you don’t know how, contact your fire department. We’ll be happy to help.
Please join us in spreading the word about fire safety; learn about it, practice it, and take a moment to visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website. You’ll find a wealth of lifesaving information for consumers, educators and business owners: http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers