Stacy Horton, Ash Flat fire chief, and Adam Bates, a fireman for the department visited area daycares Oct. 7 to teach youngsters about the importance of fire safety for the annual Fire Prevention Week. The 2009 slogan for the campaign is "Stay Fire Smart, Don't Get Burned."
Horton spoke with groups from Mrs. Melissa's Daycare and Mrs. Sha's Daycare at Ash Flat about what to do if their clothing were to catch on fire. The children enjoyed rolling on the ground for the Stop, Drop and Roll demonstration.
As a part of the activity, Horton and Bates helped familiarize the children with what firemen look like when they are dressed in their safety gear. This helps children to not be afraid of the firemen in the event they ever had to encounter one during a fire. In many cases, children are afraid of the firemen because of their breathing apparatus and the sound when they talk through their masks.
Bates dressed in full turnouts and Horton helped transition the children into seeing Bates with his face mask on, as well as having him talk both before and after he had his air turned on.
The children were happy to receive goody bags, badges and junior firemen hats from the firemen, as well as a Sparky the Dog poster for the daycare. Mrs. Sha's Daycare presented Horton and Bates with a huge plate of cookies.
The kids told Mrs. Sha that fireman were "way cooler" than policeman, an argument that is ongoing in the Lane household, as Mrs. Sha's husband Monte is a police officer.
Cherokee Village Fire Department also visited the Cherokee Elementary School, Highland Head Start and the Peace Lutheran Daycare during the week for the activities. Hardy Fire Department handed out coloring books, hats and crayons at Hugs and Tugs Daycare and Highland's Fire Department took their shiny truck to visit Mrs. Kim Taylor's Daycare and Headstart.
Fire Prevention Safety week is an annual public awareness campaign hosted by fire departments across the nation. It is week long event held yearly from Saturday until Sunday of the week in which Oct. 9 falls.
Fire Prevention Week was established in 1920, by President Woodrow Wilson to commemorate the tragic 1871 Great Chicago Fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the historical fire 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.
According to popular legend, the fire began when a cow belonging to a Chicago resident named Mrs. O'Leary, kicked over a lamp and set the barn on fire. The fire then spread, eventually overtaking the entire city of Chicago. People have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow for more than 130 years. But recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this urban legend.
Like any good story, the case of the cow has some truth to it. The great fire almost certainly started near the barn where Mrs. O'Leary kept her five milking cows. But there is no proof that O'Leary was in the barn when the fire broke out or that a cow sparked the blaze. Mrs. O'Leary herself swore that she'd been in bed early that night.
Over the years, journalists and historians have offered plenty of theories. Some blamed the blaze on a couple of neighborhood boys who were near the barn smoking cigarettes. Some people have speculated a fiery meteorite may have fallen to earth on Oct. 8, starting several fires that day including fires in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Chicago. The origin of the fire is still unknown, but historically it is the basis of the current Fire Prevention Week campaigns.
While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze to start during this fiery two-day stretch in October, it wasn't the biggest. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. The fire, which occurred on the same day as the Great Chicago Fire began in Northeast Wisconsin. The Peeshtigo Fire burned down 16 towns, killed 1,152 people and damaged 1.2 million acres of land.
These historic fires, nonetheless made firemen aware of the need for public awareness of fire prevention tips and information to help prevent this sort of tragedy from ever reoccurring.
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.