by Mike Vaughan
Fire Marshal/Division Chief
Vail Fire & Emergency Services
The week starting Oct. 9, Vail Fire & Emergency Services will be visiting schools in Vail in recognition of Fire Prevention Week. Fire Prevention Week is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Agency. The week is always in October and commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
People have often believed that the fire was started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. While the location of the start of the fire was definitely in or around her barn, the indictment of the bovine on arson charges might be a tough sell. A more likely scenario is that the cause was due to local toughs sneaking cigarettes behind the barn.
Whatever the case may be, the fire spread quickly due a number of factors. The city was in the throes of a terrible drought. In addition, most of the structures at the time were being constructed from wood. Wooden walkways were treated with linseed or stain adding to the fire hazard. The streets were unpaved, so there would be sawdust and shavings put down regularly to control dust and mud. These factors contributed to the rapid spread of the fire leading to the loss of over 250 lives and thousands of people left homeless.
This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every Ten Years.”
This year fire departments want to stress the importance of not only having smoke alarms in your home, but realizing that smoke alarms have a life span and should be replaced every ten years.
The presence of working smoke alarms dramatically increase chances of survival should a fire start in your home. It is especially important in homes where there are older adults or young children are living. Statistics show that those age groups face an even greater risk of harm should a fire occur in their home.
Firefighters will be visiting students focusing on other important fire safety tips including the importance of having and practicing a fire escape plan from the home.
Vail Fire & Emergency Services will also be hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 at the West Vail Fire Station, located at 2399 North Frontage Road. Firefighters will be available to answer questions about these and other topics. There will be activities for people of all ages as well as hot dog, drinks and giveaways. For more information, visit our website at vailgov.com/fire.