Fire Prevention Week

Dates: October 8th, 2023 – October 14th, 2023

According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week (FPW), is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The week, officially sponsored by the nonprofit NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), is intended to raise public awareness of fire dangers and the simple prevention measures that should be employed by all.

The President of the United States has proclaimed the observance every October for 80 years.” A Presidential proclamation is a persuasive endorsement from the highest level,” states NFPA President James M. Shannon. “We believe having the President’s personal support of our efforts has been key to the success of Fire Prevention Week for the past eight decades.”

The history of FPW has it roots in the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8 but continued into and did the most damage on October 9, 1871. In just 27 hours, this tragic fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,000 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The cause of the fire has never been confirmed. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, National Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday-through-Saturday period in which October 9 falls. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation pronouncing a national observance during that week every year since 1925.

This information is brought to you courtesy of and the Chatham Fire Protection District.

Install and maintain smoke alarms. Smoke alarms will warn you of a fire. Install them on every level of your home and outside of each sleeping area. Test them at monthly and replace the batteries in accordance with manufacturing requirements or whenever an alarm begins to chirp, which signals the battery is low.
Sleep with bedroom doors closed. Closed doors provide protection against heat and smoke. Even a lightweight hollow-core door delays fire and toxic smoke. Slowing the spread of fire to sleeping areas can give everyone more time to escape.

Plan and practice two ways out. Fire escape routes must not include elevators, which might take you right to the fire. Choose a meeting place outside where everyone will gather. Once you’re out, stay out! At least twice a year, have the whole family practice the escape plan.
Test doors before you open them. While kneeling or crouching at the door, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use another escape route. If the door is cool, open it with caution. If you encounter smoke, use an alternate escape route.

Crawl low under smoke. Smoke is dangerous! If you encounter smoke, use an alternate escape route. If you must exit through smoke, the cleanest air will be several inches off the floor. Crawl on your hands and knees to the nearest safe exit.

If you are trapped, close the doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep the smoke out. Wait at a window and signal for help. If there’s a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are.

Once you’re out, stay out! If a fire starts, don’t wait for anything. Just get outside. Go to your family’s meeting place. Then someone can call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone or an alarm box. Do not go back into your home for any reason, until a grownup says it’s safe.

Stop, Drop, and Roll. Everyone should know this rule: If your clothes catch on fire, don’t run! Stop where you are, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs, and roll over and over to smother the flames.

Space heaters need space. Keep portable and space heaters at 3 feet (1 meter) from anything that can burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to bed and keep children and pets well away from them.

Matches and lighters are tools, not toys. In the hands of a child, matches and lighters are deadly. Store them up high where kids can’t reach them, preferably in a locked cabinet. And teach your children from the start that matches and lighters are tools for adults, not toys for kids. If children find matches or lighters, they should tell a grown-up immediately.

Brought to by the National Fire Protection Association and the Chatham Community Fire Protection District.