National Fire Prevention Week

With the current record-high temperatures and drought conditions in Marion County, it is especially poignant that this week we observe National Fire Prevention Week.
Fire prevention week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 300 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than three square miles of the city.
According to popular legend, the three-day fire broke out after a cow--belonging to Mrs. Cathrine O’Leary--kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. That is the legend, but there is no proof.  
On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (known today as the International Fire Marshals Association) decided that the anniversary of the fire should be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention. The commemoration grew incrementally official over the years.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls. This is the longest-running public health and safety observance on record.
Fire prevention can’t be stressed enough, especially now.
Not only is Marion County currently experiencing record-high temperatures and drought conditions, but the county is moving into the driest time of the season. During any year, according to Marion County weather recorder Eddy Pearce, October produces the least amount of rain of all the months. So even though a little rain may be forecast, drought conditions are not expected to improve very much.
Last week, the Byrd Volunteer and Fire Rescue Department, the Shiloh Volunteer Fire Department and the Alabama Forestry Commission responded to a woods fire in the southwestern part of the county. That fire was caused by a resident burning household garbage outdoors, AFC Forestry Specialist Joel Bartlett determined.
Currently, the State of Alabama is under a fire alert, which means the Alabama Forestry Commission will limit burn permits due to drought conditions.
Burning household garbage outdoors is not only illegal but quite dangerous during these dry times, as evidenced by the fire.
Bartlett said offenders could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Bartlett did not charge or ticket the resident for burning the trash. “We instructed her about the fire alert and educated her on that. Hopefully, she learned her lesson this time,” Bartlett said.
Perhaps it’s a lesson all of us in Marion County can keep in mind as we move into the driest season of the year under record-high temperatures and drought conditions.