Why Do We Have a National Fire Prevention Month?

Chicago Water Tower
The Chicago Water Tower survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

October is Fire Prevention Month. It’s a great time to think about how we can stay safe from fires. But how did Fire Prevention Month start?

President Calvin Coolidge started the first National Fire Prevention Week in 1925. Later, entire month of October became National Fire Prevention Month. The week Coolidge picked in October is the same week of a famous event in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire. The fire was huge! It burned 2000 acres of land. The fire destroyed more than 17,400 structures. 100,000 people lost their homes.

The Water Tower in the photo is one building that survived the fire. You can still see it in Chicago today! Why did the building survive? It’s made of stone, and stone doesn’t burn easily. The building had help, though. A man named Frank Trautman soaked blankets and sails in Lake Michigan. He covered the building with the wet cloth.

After the fire, people made buildings safer. Many buildings today are made of materials that don’t burn easily. Tall buildings have fire escapes and special doors you can use to exit. Buildings have smoke detectors, too. Many buildings have sprinklers that spray water when fires start. The Great Chicago Fire was a tragedy. But we think more today about fire safety because of the fire.

What Do You Think? Look around your school. What keeps you safe from fires at school? What do you notice?

Photo Credit: janetteasche/RooM/Getty Images