IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Fire Prevention Week began in the United States after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 -- a devastating blaze that tore through Chicago more than 140 years ago.
Since then, that incredible fire's legacy lives on through a week of focused fire prevention, which begins on October 7 around the country and in Idaho.
"It's public awareness," said Idaho Falls Fire Prevention chief David Coffey. "It's firefighters getting out, making contact with the public, letting them know that we care, that we have a message."
The message: remembrance for those who've lost their lives fighting America's fires, and the importance of prevention.
"We want to try to get as many lives saved as possible," said Coffey. "The further we can get that number down, the better we feel we're doing."
Coffey said fire prevention efforts are doing pretty well. In the last decade, less firefighters are losing their lives on the job.
"In 2011 we only had 63 firefighter deaths. The year before that it was 70 and the year before that it was 80," said Coffey. "So we're on the right track."
Coffey said each year is another opportunity to make a new point about preventing fire.
Every year fire prevention week has it's own specific focus or theme. For 2012 that theme is "2 Ways Out" -- making sure your family has a plan A, and a plan B in case of fire.
"We're giving homes the assignment: go home, make a map of your house, and make a plan," said Coffey. "Two options, cause you know, you need a plan B."
Coffey said the more a household is prepared, the more natural it becomes to take action.
Fire Prevention Week includes a federal half-staff observation across the country. Flags will fly at half-mast to commemorate the bravery of our firefighters.
Idaho Falls Fire will host a variety of open houses to mark Fire Prevention Week:
October 8th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fire Station No. 1 in at 645 Shoup Avenue in downtown Idaho Falls.
October 9th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fire Station No. 2 at 3475 Leihem Lane in Idaho Falls.
October 10th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fire Station No. 3 at 2125 Federal Way in Idaho Falls.
October 11th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fire Station No. 4 at 3180 S. Woodruff Avenue in Idaho Falls.
October 12th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fire Station No. 5 at 1775 S. Bellin Road in Idaho Falls.