Did you know that since the days of the bucket brigade and the horse-drawn fire wagons a whole industry has developed to make sophisticated equipment to detect and fight fires? We’ve come a long way since the Chicago fire of 1878, considered the greatest disaster of the 19th century.
Here’s what happened. After a long dry spell, high winds fanned a small fire into a raging inferno that caught the city of Chicago completely by surprise.
The city had only 200 firefighters, 17 fire engines and 18 ladder trucks. With this equipment, they had to protect 651 miles of wooden sidewalks and 60,000 buildings, most of which were wood as well. It was a huge task.
The fire soon raged out of control, rampaging across a city of 350,000 terrified residents. The 34-hour calamity took the lives of 250 people, destroyed 18,000 buildings and left 90,000 people homeless.
Incredibly, that very same day, a massive forest fire roared out of control in eastern Wisconsin, wiping out the town of Peshtigo. Some 1,500 residents died and 4 million acres of prairie land were destroyed.
These and other tragic fires led to new products, new building codes and a new industry dedicated to detection and prevention.
Today we have sophisticated systems with heat sensors, smoke detectors, voice evacuation systems and other devices to protect hotels, office towers and other buildings. Specially designed fire suppression systems have halon gas to extinguish fires without damaging vulnerable computer centers, telephone switching equipment and other sensitive devices.
But this technology doesn’t mean we can let down our guard. We still need to rely on one of the best fire prevention systems ever-alert workers who look for and report fire hazards. Always remember to…
*Practice good housekeeping and store flammable materials a safe distance from heating equipment or electrical units.
*Inspect and maintain electrical equipment properly.
*Take care in handling flammable material.
*Eliminate careless smoking, oily rags, static electricity, grease, and other substances that can cause fires.
To prevent fires, you need to make sure your work area is clear of hazards. Any fire can easily lead to a tragedy and any activity that is a fire risk requires special precautions. Be aware of the dangers around you, report anything you think could lead to a fire and remember attention is prevention.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT FIRE PREVENTION?
*Copyright 2006 Harkins Safety B219