Fire Prevention Week marks the anniversary of the Great Chicago fire of October 8-9, 1871. The blaze that raged for several days claimed more than 250 lives and destroyed more than 17,400 structures. Like later major fire tragedies such as the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York with 145 fatalities and the 1942 fire in Boston's Coconut Grove nightclub, leaving 491 dead. The Chicago Firemen prompted a much needed reform by focusing public attention on fire prevention and fire safety.
In 1911 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Chicago fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America proclaimed the nation's first Fire Prevention Day to promote public awareness of fire safety. Fire-awareness programs and parades were held throughout America.
In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge declared Fire Prevention Week an official national observance. Therefore, annually on the Sunday through Saturday period containing the October 9th anniversary of the Chicago Fire the focus has been on fire safety awareness, sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).