PACIFIC COUNTY - Local fire departments will be teaming up again this year to help promote Fire Prevention Week (FPW). FPW has been a successful public safety campaign for 80 years, thanks in major part to the hundreds of thousands of firefighters across North America who work hard to reach the citizens they serve with fire safety messages.

The week claims its roots from the Great Chicago Fire, which began on Oct. 8, 1871, causing most of its damage on the following day, Oct. 9. The fire was legendary, killing hundreds of people, leaving tens of thousands homeless, and devouring thousands of structures. Since 1871 there have been other fires which have caused major damage and destroyed lives. FPW is a time for fire departments to help raise public awareness about the dangers of fire and how to prevent fires.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation and every year since then the President of the United States has signed a proclamation for a national observance during the week in which Oct. 9th falls.

On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, local fire agencies are teaming up with the National Fire Prevention Association as a way to keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention. Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 6 through Oct. 12 and the theme this year is "Team Up for Fire Safety."

Local fire departments hope everyone in our community will team up with firefighters to learn how to prevent and protect himself or herself from fire. Local activities are being planned that will help teach children and families alike how to stay safe. These activities include school visits and assemblies to deliver important safety messages to students in kindergarten through sixth grades, and visits to local daycares. Parents are encouraged to talk to their students about what they are learning at school during Fire Prevention Week.

Due to unforeseen difficulties, an open house set for Oct. 5 at the Fire Hall in Ocean Park has been cancelled.

What should FPW mean to your family? It should be a time to make sure that your home will stay free from fire. It's an opportunity to hunt for hazards, to replace smoke alarm batteries, to check electrical wiring for fraying, to store matches away from children and to make certain you and your family won't be counted among the statistics of injured or killed by fire this year. Most importantly, it's a great opportunity to plan and conduct a home fire drill with every member of your household. Again this year, remembering the might of a huge fire will inspire us to work together to make our area the most fire safe community in North America.

For more information on Fire Prevention Week, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.

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