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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fire Fighter News - October 2011

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. 

According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow - belonging to Mrs. Catherine O’Leary - kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. Chances are you’ve heard some version of this story yourself; people have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O’Leary, for more than 130 years. But recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this version of events.

The ‘Moo’ myth
Like any good story, the ‘case of the cow’ has some truth to it. The great fire almost certainly started near the barn where Mrs. O’Leary kept her five milking cows. But there is no proof that O’Leary was in the barn when the fire broke out - or that a jumpy cow sparked the blaze. Mrs. O’Leary herself swore that she’d been in bed early that night, and that the cows were also tucked in for the evening.
But if a cow wasn’t to blame for the huge fire, what was? Over the years, journalists and historians have offered plenty of theories. Some blamed the blaze on a couple of neighborhood boys who were near the barn sneaking cigarettes. Others believed that a neighbor of the O’Leary’s may have started the fire. Some people have speculated that a fiery meteorite may have fallen to earth on October 8, starting several fires that day - in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Chicago.

The biggest blaze that week
While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze to start during this fiery two-day stretch, it wasn’t the biggest. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. The fire, which also occurred on October 8th, 1871, and roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1,152 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it ended.
Historical accounts of the fire say that the blaze began when several railroad workers clearing land for tracks unintentionally started a brush fire. Before long, the fast-moving flames were whipping through the area ‘like a tornado,’ some survivors said. It was the small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin that suffered the worst damage. Within an hour, the entire town had been destroyed.

Eight decades of fire prevention
Those who survived the Chicago and Peshtigo fires never forgot what they’d been through; both blazes produced countless tales of bravery and heroism. But the fires also changed the way that firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety. On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (today known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should henceforth 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 October 9 falls. 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. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.
This years Fire Prevention Week message is “Protect Your Family
from Fire”.
EVERYONE in your family has a role to play in your home’s fire safety. Both adults and kids should be familiar with smoke alarms and home fire escape planning.

Kid’s Checklist
•  Does your home have smoke alarms on every level, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area?
•  Do you know the sound that a smoke alarm makes?
•  Do you know what to do if you smoke alarm sounds?
•  Are all the exits in your home clear of furniture, toys, and clutter?
•  Can you see the number on your house from the street (have a grown-up go with you to check)?
•  Has your family picked a safe place to meet outside if a fire occurs?

Grown-up’s Checklist
•   Are the batteries working in all your smoke alarms?
•   Does your home have interconnected smoke alarms (when one sounds, they all sound)?
•   Do you test the batteries in the smoke alarms at least once a month?
•   Does your family have a home fire escape plan that includes two ways out of each room?
•   Does your entire family practice your plan twice a year?

Do the Drill!  - The Family’s Fire Safety Checklist
1.  Call the family together
2.  Let everyone know that you are going to do a practice fire drill.
2.  Explain that when the smoke alarm goes off, everyone should quickly and carefully leave the home and go to the Outside Meeting Place.
3. Ask everyone to go to a different room and wait for the alarm.
4.  After several minutes, set off the smoke alarm by pushing the test button and watch your family’s actions.

The Bodega Volunteer Fire Department will be holding its annual Polenta And Beef Stew Dinner on Saturday, October 8th from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at the McCaughey Hall, 117184 Bodega Hwy, downtown Bodega.  Dinner includes polenta topped with beef stew and cheese, salad and a roll.  Adults $12.00 and children $8.00.

The Bodega Bay Fire District is proud to announce the promotion of Justin Fox to Captain/EMT.  Justin Fox has been with the Fire District for seven years.  Justin is also a Fire Captain with the Wilmar Fire Department.
Our annual fire prevention “Night at the Fire Station” is October 7th, from
5 to 8pm.  Station tours, Sparky the fire dog, BBQ, Fun and Games for the Kids.  We hope to see you there.

Forestville Firefighters will be hosing a Blood Drive on November 2nd from 3 to 6:30 pm.
 The Forestville Firefighters Association will be hosting the Annual Halloween Haunted House at the Forestville Fire Station from 5pm  to 8pm on Halloween night.  Children and adults of all ages are welcome.  The Association will also be handing out glow stick necklaces to make your Halloween night a safe one.

Firefighters from Russian River joined personnel from Healdsburg, Rancho Adobe, Sonoma Valley and numerous agencies throughout the North Bay and travelled to San Francisco to participate in a memorial stair climb at the Transamerica Building as part of the ten year anniversary of 9/11. To honor the 343 fallen firefighters and 60 police officers who died at the World Trade Center, individuals who participated in the stair climb wore the name and picture of a fallen firefighter or police officer and climbed a total of 98 stories.
Our next Board of Directors Meeting is October 10th at 6pm at the fire station. We hope you’ll consider attending.
For more info visit us on line at

9/11 Remembrance and New Station Open House
Thank you to the hundreds of friends, neighbors, and family who attended our September 11th Remembrance and New Station Open House. It was a huge success. The employees from Traditional Medicinals were very generous cooking hot dogs for everyone and serving Mom’s apple pies. A Sonoma Life Support Ambulance taught CPR and on-duty engines from Cal Fire and Gold Ridge Fire also attended. CHP officers and Sheriff deputies came to remember 9/11. Chiefs and firefighters from Sonoma County Fire, Occidental, Gold Ridge, Sebastopol, Forestville, Bodega Bay, Monte Rio, Rincon Valley, Windsor, and more were on hand as well.
We memorialized the day with a flag honor guard who added a 9/11 memorial flag just below our American flag while the crowd watched and observed a moment of silence. Firefighters and public alike took the time to Remember those who had fallen, Reflect on the event, and Renew their hope for the future.
When the remembrance ended, the Graton Firefighters took the opportunity to thank the Graton Community for making this station a reality. After 60 years of service, we moved into our new station that will serve us for the next 60 years and beyond. The event concluded with a Resolution from the County Board of Supervisors presented by Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo thanking the District and the firefighters for their service over the last six decades and becoming one of the busiest fire stations still staffed only with volunteers.

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