Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the devastating Chicago fire on October 8, 1981. It killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.
The fire changed the way that firefighters and public officials in Canada and the U.S think about fire safety. The Fire Marshals Association of North America (today known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Chicago fire should be observed in a way to educate the public about the importance of fire prevention. Fire Prevention Week was proclaimed in Canada in 1919 to commemorate the Chicago blaze, as well as the major fire that destroyed the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa on February 3, 1916.
The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) continues today to make National Fire Prevention Week a priority and counts on the participation and efforts of tens of thousands of fire and safety professionals, emergency volunteers, and other individuals working to reduce the risk of fire and the toll it takes on our society.
With tremendous help from fire safety advocates throughout North America, Fire Prevention Week continues to be a success each year.