On 10/2/1922 the first National Fire Prevention Week was proclaimed by President Warren Harding. October is Fire Prevention Month! And the week of October 3rd to the 9th is Fire Prevention Week this year. The goal of Fire Prevention Month (and the week of October 3rd – 9th) is to raise fire safety awareness and help ensure homes and families are protected. In 1922, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) named the second week of October as Fire Prevention Week in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The NFPA’s 2021 campaign for Fire Safety Month is “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape!”
On 10/2/1888 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter died “while fighting a fire on the John Breedon tow barge. The boat’s coal elevator caught fire as it was unloading coal at the Chicago River docks on Erie Street (566 N. Kingsbury). Truck 3 was among the first fire companies to respond. The firefighter placed a fire department ladder along the side of the barge, but the boat shifted while he was climbing the ladder and he fell into the river. He surfaced twice to call for help, but his heavy coat and boots pulled him underwater. Firefighters dragged the river immediately, but were unable to rescue him before he drowned.”
On 10/2/1893 in Omaha, Nebraska the Farnam Street Theater fire killed a firefighter and injured six others (five firefighters) when a wall collapsed after a fire destroyed the brick 77’ X 132’ four-story-high front and five-story rear building on the northeast corner of Fifteenth and Farnam Streets.
On 10/2/1908 two Youngstown, Ohio firefighters died at a mercantile fire. “When the smoke was seen coming up from the basement around the radiators of a 5 & 10 cent store, firefighters were called to investigate. Finding a working fire in the basement of the building, a general alarm was struck, bringing the entire department to the scene. After a futile 3-½ hour battle, the fire had spread through the four-story structure. As firefighters were operating on the roof, the roof suddenly caved in, carrying eight men to the basement. Rescue efforts were begun immediately and six of the men were recovered; two were dead when they were found.”
On 10/2/1908 a Portland, Maine firefighter “died as a result of an electrical shock of heavy voltage at a still alarm at the Congress Square Hotel, 579-581 Congress Street, at 7:15 p.m.
On 10/2/1942 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter died at the Acme Truck Rentals / Interstate Trucking Company garage fire. “An acetylene welding torch started a 5-11 alarm fire at the Acme Truck Rentals / Interstate Trucking Company garage at 2930 South Wells Street in Chicago when a spark from the torch ignited a section of the garage’s wooden wall. Firefighters from the Chicago Fire Department were battling the flames when a wall collapsed on nine firefighters, burying them under tons of debris. One firefighter of Truck Co. 14 died immediately, and a second firefighter died from his injuries one day later at Mercy Hospital. More than $100,000 worth of equipment was lost in the fire, including truck tractors and tires that had been set aside to support United States efforts during World War II.”
On 10/2/1953 a San Francisco, California firefighter “died of his injuries while operating at a two-alarm blaze in the historic Hoffman Grill at 619 Market Street. The firefighter had tripped over a hose line and fell, striking his head. He was dead on arrival at Harbor Emergency Hospital. The fire had started in the basement of the Grill.”
On 10/2/1967 an Aitkin, Minnesota firefighter “died from the head injuries he sustained after being caught in a wall collapse that occurred from an explosion.”
On 10/2/1983 a Cranston, Rhode Island firefighter “was electrocuted when he touched a disabled car that struck a utility pole guy wire in Warwick. Warwick police speculate that the firefighter was on his way to work shortly before 7:00 a.m. when he noticed the car against the utility pole. He apparently touched the car to see if anyone was trapped inside, and was killed by an estimated 7,200 volts that traveled through the car from a fallen electrical wire. The car caught on fire. The driver lost control of the car on the rain-slicked road, hit the pole, and then left the car and reported the accident to the police by telephone. Police say they cannot explain how the driver managed to get out of the car without being electrocuted.”
On 10/2/1997 two Carthage, Illinois firefighters died “while fighting a liquefied petroleum gas fire at a farm located near Burnside, Illinois, shortly after 4:30 p.m. The fire started in an operating grain dryer that was in the process of drying corn. The grain dryer was powered by a tractor and connected to two 1,000-gallon, horizontal liquefied petroleum gas tanks, and the fire quickly spread to the tractor and tanks. Firefighters responded to the fire from more than ten miles away in Carthage. As they approached the farm, the firefighters could see 30-40 foot flames shooting into the air, as the pressure relief valves on the liquefied petroleum gas tanks vented flames up into the sky. The first fire engine on the scene was positioned behind a large grain silo and a pole shed, but the tailboard of the engine was slightly exposed and was directly in line with one liquefied petroleum gas tank. The two firefighters were standing near the engine’s tailboard when a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) occurred. The broken tank shot like a rocket through the pole shed and struck both firefighters, instantly killing them.”
On 10/2/2009 a Yonkers, New York firefighter “lost his life battling a blaze at 149 Waverly Street, after he ran into a burning building thinking that there were two women trapped inside. He jumped out of a third-story building, and he plunged at least 20 feet down, the men tried to deploy a rescue rope, but the fire suddenly flared up. It was over 700 degrees up on the third floor, he was trapped by flames and smoke, and his radio wire was melted to his coat. Two other firefighters were hurt when they jumped with him from the window. One of the injured firefighters returned to work; the other retired. The fire was declared arson. A Yonkers man who was evicted from his apartment at 149 Waverly Street lit the fire, and he was arrested on murder charges for the death of a firefighter.
On 10/2/1927 near Rodamers, West Virginia a locomotive boiler explosion killed two.
On 10/2/1901 in Corunna, Michigan the six buildings of a furniture plant were destroyed by fire after a gasoline tank exploded.
On 10/2/1895 a fireworks factory explosion and fire in Jersey City, NJ killed one and injured five in a 12’ by 20’ one-story frame structure used to make roman candles.
On 10/2/2013 eight people died and fourteen were injured in a bus, tractor-trailer, and SUV fiery crash in Dandridge, Tennessee after the bus carrying a church group from North Carolina veered across the highway median.