October 8, 2015 --
Wearing a speculator rainbow of assorted T-shirts, hundreds of elementary students, preschoolers, teachers as well as parents from around the state poured into Albany’s James H. Gray Civic Center for the city’s 21st annual Fire Prevention Week activities, Oct. 7.
Fire safety officials from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany joined local city and county government officials, Georgia’s other emergency responders and volunteers, who dressed up as super heroes, clowns, fire dogs and villains spewing smoke and simulated fire for the event, which is held annually across the nation to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
William A. Thomas, firefighter/emergency medical technician, MCLB Albany, was one of several of the installation’s first responders, who participated in the event.
“Today, at the Civic Center, we are assisting the City of Albany with the Fire Safety Show for the kids around this area,” Thomas said. “We will be dressing up as clowns and assisting the city with (educating the children).”
Fire Inspector, Perry Mixon, MCLB Albany, explained his role in assisting his team to prepare for the event.
“I will be there assisting my fellow colleagues by helping them to get dressed up (as clowns) and putting on their makeup,” Mixon said. “We’ll also have Sparky the Fire Dog (the official mascot of the National Fire Protection Association) out there. The city already has (its) own program in place and we’re just helping out wherever we can.
“Last year they had clowns come out and do things with smoke alarms, guys dressed in costumes, smoke and fire,” he continued. “It’s a pretty good show and the kids love it. This will be my second year participating and I just hope it’s another good year.”
Rodney Staley Sr., fire inspector, MCLB Albany, who has participated in the city’s Fire Safety Show for the past eight years, shared his insight and some historical facts about the event.
“This week is Fire Prevention Week and it is done every year the week of Oct. 9, in (commemoration) of the Great Chicago Fire (of 1871),” Staley recalled. “It is the largest Fire Prevention Show in Georgia and the second largest in the nation.
“The children who attend are mainly kindergarteners and elementary school-aged students through 6th grade,” he continued. “They come from all over the state, with teachers, parents as well as other first responders, who are able to come and participate, whether it’s actively or logistically. This is my eighth and final year; I’ll be retiring in February 2016.”
Staley also pointed out many fire safety officials assist in other activities for one week during the commemoration and he, personally, urges active-duty service members to participate in the future.
According to the website: http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week/about-fire-prevention-week, Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration (a large destructive fire) 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 Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 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. Recent research has helped to debunk this version of events.