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Community Focus
by Tom Kiurski

How your department can mark Fire Prevention Week

An ongoing effort to educate our citizens must remain a primary effort of our fire department

By Tom Kiurski

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is the impetus for Fire Prevention Week. The fire started in downtown Chicago, near the famous O'Leary barn.

The fire spread quickly after a long hot and dry summer. The city had grown quickly, and the construction type reflected that. The structures were made of wood, as were the sidewalks and the streets.

The fire burned for three days and destroyed 3.5 square miles of downtown Chicago, left more than 100,000 people homeless and killed approximately 300 citizens.

The battle to educate our citizen on fire safety and prevention becomes more difficult each year. Budgets get smaller and our numbers are decreasing, while our workload remains the same or even increases.

Despite the setbacks, an ongoing effort to educate our citizens must remain a primary effort of our fire department. The statistics prove that our efforts are saving lives. The Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives has recognized the value of a good public fire safety education program.

Many of our efforts are centered around Fire Prevention Week in October. There should be a continuous effort on our fire safety education program, but October is a good time to focus on. Here's some things you can do:

Many fire departments invite citizens in for a tour during this week, while others put more effort into an open house event.

Others visit the schools in their districts while some put safety information into articles that are sent to local media for publication. Videos can be customized to your specific department and posted on the Web, too.

And how about sending out messages on Facebook or Twitter? It's not too late to get some information out there, and while the interest is there, make a plan on educating your community for the rest of the year.

About the author

Tom Kiurski has been in the fire service since 1981. He is the Training Coordinator and Director of Fire Safety Education for Livonia, Mich., Fire & Rescue. He has served as a firefighter/paramedic, engineer and lieutenant prior to his appointment as the training coordinator. He has earned an Associates Degree in Fire Science from Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., a Bachelors Degree in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Tom teaches fire service-related courses at local colleges and fire academies. He has presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis seven times, as well as numerous state and local conferences. He has written more than 300 articles on fire safety education and training that have appeared in various fire service publications. Contact Tom at Tom.Kiurski@firerescue1.com.



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