Making communities safer

Published 4:40 am Thursday, October 16, 2008

By Staff
It is interesting that the Bath Volunteer Fire Department celebrates 50 years of service this month, with October being National Fire Prevention Month.
For 50 years, that’s what the Bath Volunteer Fire Department has been doing, helping to prevent fires and fighting them when prevention fails. There’s no doubt firefighters would rather prevent fires than fight them.
With fire departments across the nation responding to hundreds of thousands of house fires each year, it is no wonder the theme for Fire Prevention Week 2008 was “It’s Fire Prevention Week: Prevent Home Fires.” Home fires are tragic, killing people, injuring people, damaging property and destroying property.
Just think, with a little extra caution the prevention of leading causes of home fires — cooking, electrical, heating and smoking-related — is within the power of fire-safety advocates and homeowners.
Many people do not know that Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which killed more than 250 people, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and left 100,000 people homeless in 1871. That fire began Oct. 8.
The Chicago fire was not the largest fire that week in 1871. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That fire, which also occurred on Oct. 8, blazed a path through northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people and burning 1.2 million acres before it was extinguished.
That’s more than enough proof that fire prevention will save lives and property. Those fires changed the way firefighters and public officials viewed fire safety. It’s tragic that it took such a significant loss of lives and properties before changes related to fire safety were made.
That’s why the Bath Volunteer Fire Department and other fire departments in the United States stress fire-prevention activities and projects during National Fire Prevention Month and National Fire Prevention Week. 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.
Although families are encouraged to practice their home fire-escape plans during National Fire Prevention Month, they should practice several times a year. If a family doesn’t have a fire-escape plan, that family should contact the nearest fire department and ask for assistance in establishing such a plan. Firefighters will be more than happy to help a family develop such a life-saving plan.
As for fire prevention, it should be on our minds each month and each week, not just during October.
Just ask the Bath Volunteer Fire Department about that. It has been working to prevent fires each month of the 50 years it’s been in existence. Its 50 years of fire prevention have made Bath a safer community.
Here’s to another 50 years of a safer community.