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Fire History & Trivia
Fire departments in America have a storied history. Additionally, the more people learn about fire, the safer we will all be.

1. Why do we commemorate Fire Prevention Week?
Fire Prevention Week has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire. The fire occurred on Oct. 9,1871. It killed 300 people and left 100,000 homeless.

2. What is the Fire Triangle?
The fire triangle represents the three elements needed for a fire to occur. All three elements must be present at the same time to have a fire. The fire will continue to burn until one element is removed. The three elements are:

• Fuel--something to burn.
• Heat--Hot enough to make the fuel burn.
• Oxygen--21% is needed for optimum burning, exactly the percentage we need to breathe.

3. Where do Fire Poles come from?
Captain David Kenyon of the Chicago Fire Department invented fire poles in 1878. Fire poles have fallen out of favor in recent years due to injuries. Many fire stations built today are single story structures that do not utilize fire poles.

4. How long have sprinkler systems been in use?
Fire sprinkler systems have been putting out fires since 1860. Although there have been some design improvements, the basic technology has remained the same for over 130 years. Most recently, fire sprinklers have started to appear in single family homes.

5. When was the first fire department organized in the United States?
A large fire in Boston, in 1679, led to the organization of the first paid fire department in America. The city imported a fire engine from England and employed a chief and 12 firefighters. The first volunteer Fire Company was formed in Philadelphia, PA, in 1736. Benjamin Franklin served as America’s first Volunteer Fire Chief.

6. Why are Dalmatians considered firehouse dogs?
In the early days of the fire service, fire trucks were horse-drawn. In those days, nearly every firehouse had a resident Dalmatian. The job of the Dalmatian was to direct the horses, keep the horses company, and guard the firehouse. Today we do not keep horses in the fire station, but many firehouses still have a Dalmatian. The resident Dalmatian is still responsible for guarding the firehouse and the fire trucks.

7. Why is the Maltese Cross the symbol of the fire service?
The Maltese Cross represents the heroic ideals of saving lives and extinguishing fires. The emblem was borrowed from the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. The Knights were an organization that existed in the 11th and 12th Centuries helping the poor and the sick. The Knights of St. John later assisted the Knights of the Crusades in a relief effort to the Island of Malta, the island for which the Maltese Cross was named. The Maltese Cross came to represent the principles of charity, loyalty, chivalry, generosity to friend or foe, protection of the weak, and dexterity in service.