NEWS | Oct. 8, 2021

Where There's Smoke

By Airman 1st Class Matthew Porter 87th Air Base Wing

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871. The blaze claimed the lives of more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.

Fire Prevention Week is now the longest-running public health observance in our country. For John Courgis, 87th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Prevention assistant chief, fire prevention takes place year-round, and its success depends on both on and off-base community support.

“We have a mutual aid agreement with other Fire Departments in the surrounding community as first responders,” said Courgis. “When we’re not responding to a car accident or health emergency, we’re out instructing the local community in fire prevention methods.”

The Long Island native and retired U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. states that this year’s emphasis is the “Sounds of Fire Safety”.

“Smoke detectors are a first line of defense, not only do they alert us to situations where we need to respond, they can save valuable time and even lives in the process,” said Courgis. “Teaching young kids at local schools what the alarm sound means and what to do afterwards is essential. We also stress the importance of parents and guardians maintaining smoke detectors by checking the batteries and replacing them if needed.”

Courgis maintains that while the Fire Department is there to render aid both on and off base, most situations that cause fires are entirely preventable.

“Knowing the basics of first aid and fire-proofing a home, even proper response to something like a grease fire can make all the difference in preventing fires as well as health emergencies from escalating,” said Courgis. “Teaching people preventative measures is one of my responsibilities as a Fire Chief, keeping our families and neighbors safe from preventable harm is everyone’s’ responsibility in a community.”

For additional resources regarding Fire Prevention Week visit: