Fire Prevention Week is on record as the longest running public health observance, according to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center. The week is usually observed in early October, but often firefighters and schools work together throughout the month of October to bring fire safety lessons to students.
Preschool students got their lesson early in October with visits from Thornapple Township Fire officials.
McFall students were fortunate to have representatives from Freeport and Thornapple Township show the equipment, fire trucks, and gear as well as talk about some simple safety rules. For McFall teacher Lindsey Murray, it was an extra special day when her father, Dave Murray, Chief of the Ada Fire Department, also came to lend another voice to the safety lesson.
Students got to see firefighters in their full firefighting gear - with the heavy pants and jacket, face mask, air tank, helmet, boots and gloves. They were reminded that even though firefighters might look scary with all the equipment on, they were there to help and young children should not be afraid of the firefighters.
Thornapple Township Chief Randy Eaton was stationed outside by the fire truck and took students on a tour around the truck, explaining the different pieces of equipment on the truck and how they are used in different fire or rescue situations.
Students were intrigued by the hoses, ladders, and all the controls and gauges on the trucks.
Firefighters reminded students of some basic safety rules: get out of a burning building as quickly as possible; crawl don't run; have a meeting place outside the home; and call 911 only in emergency situations.
President Calvin Coolidge was the first to officially proclaim a National Fire Prevention Week in 1925 although President Woodrow Wilson declared a National Fire Prevention Day in 1920. It is officially observed the week of Oct. 9 in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire which started Oct. 8, 1871, and did most of its damage Oct. 9. That fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.