Yuma, Arizona - October 8th through the 14th is National Fire Prevention Week. At 6:00 pm Tuesday October 10th, a short ceremony will be held at Yuma City Hall in the Council Chambers. A proclamation will be read regarding Fire Prevention Week in the City of Yuma. In addition, the Firefighter, Fire Engineer, Fire Captain, and Support Person of the Year from the City of Yuma Fire Department will be recognized. YFD will also be presenting badges for various rank advancements that have recently occurred and recognizing other outstanding achievements.

The 2017 theme for Fire Prevention Week is “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out!!!” emphasizing the lifesaving importance of practicing Exits Drills In The Home (EDITH). To further mark this week, each day we will be highlighting a different aspect of fire prevention.

The first national recognition of a Fire Prevention Day came in 1911 on the 40th anniversary of “The Great Chicago Fire”. That fire occurred October 9, 1871. At least 250 people died, 100,000 were left homeless, more than 17,000 structures and 2000 acres burned in only 27 hours! Popular legend had it that the fire was started by a lantern kicked over by “Mrs. O’Leary’s cow” but that story is not believed to be accurate. Less known to history is “The Great Peshtigo Fire” (the most devastating forest fire in American history) raging that same week in neighboring Wisconsin. That fire would burn 2,400 square miles (1.2 million acres!), killing more than 1,100 people, completely destroying the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin and 15 other towns.

That week in October would long be remembered for its tragic losses in life and property. In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week. 91 years later, our country has grown tremendously and great efforts have been made to protect and preserve life and property, but thousands still die in fires every year in the United States. In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 501,500 home structure fires. These fires resulted in 2,685 civilian fire fatalities, 15,700 civilian injuries and $10.3 billion in damage. On average, one home structure fire was reported every 86 seconds.