The National Fire Protection Association reports that every 23 seconds a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. Many of these fires occur in residential properties and could have been prevented.

In an effort to heighten the public's awareness of fire safety and fire prevention, the Harford County Department of Emergency Services, in cooperation with the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and other public safety organizations are recognizing Fire Prevention Week Oct. 6 to 12.

National Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,400 structures.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first presidential proclamation officially recognizing National Fire Prevention Week. Fire Prevention Week is held during the week of Oct. 9 annually, the date of the Great Chicago Fire.


"Like" exploreharford's Facebook page

The theme for this year's Fire Prevention Week is "Prevent Kitchen Fires," and reminds every one of the dangers of cooking fires. According to the NFPA, most kitchen fires stem from unattended cooking. Additionally, NFPA research indicates that cooking fires are the leading cause of residential fires and home fire-related injuries.

A report recently published by the NFPA titled "Fire Loss in the United States in 2012" provides a comprehensive examination of fire in the United States. The report outlines the following fire related statistics:

• A civilian fire injury occurs every 32 minutes;

• Home fires account for nearly 76 percent of all structure fires;

• Homes are where the majority of civilian fire injuries and deaths occur, accounting for 78 percent of fire injuries and 83 percent of fire deaths;

• Fires resulted in approximately $12.4 billion in damages; and

• Dwelling fires resulted in approximately $7 billion in property damages.

"Fire prevention is the responsibility of everyone, not just the fire service," Russell J. Strickland, director of the Department of Emergency Services, said in a press release. "I urge the citizens of Harford County to contact or visit their local volunteer fire or EMS department for further information on fire prevention and fire safety."

Also commenting on Fire Prevention Week, Harford County Executive David R. Craig said, "We all should be vigilant about fire safety at home and in the workplace. When it comes to fire and life safety, what you do may be the difference between life or death for you, your family or loved ones."