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Fire Prevention Week approaches

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- William Larosa and Jeremy Collette, firefighters with the 460th Civil Engineer Squadron, demonstrate putting out a fire at the scene of a simulated F-16 Fighting Falcon mishap during a full spectrum threat response exercise Oct. 6, 2005, at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)

2009 National Fire Prevention week is Oct. 4-11. (U.S. Air Force photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Fire Prevention Week 2009 is Oct. 4-11. In preparation for this week, here are some fun facts about firefighters.

Why is Fire Prevention Week in October? In 1911 the Fire Marshals Association of North America decided the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a manner to inform the public about fire prevention and fire safety. Fire Prevention Day was first observed on Oct. 11, 1911. In 1920 President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation. In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, 1925.

Who is the Patron Saint of Firefighters? Born in the year 250, St. Florian was a member of the Roman Army and was sentenced to death by fire by Emperor Diocletian when he refused to follow orders and persecute all Christians in the area. Standing on the pile erected to be set on fire killing him, Florian challenged the Roman soldiers to start the fire and said "If you do, I will climb to heaven on the flames." Fearful of Florian, the soldiers had him drowned instead. Florian was made a Saint by Pope Lucius III, and later a person was reported to have been saved from fire by praying to Saint Florian. Since then Saint Florian has generally been regarded as the patron saint of the fire service.

Why is the Maltese Cross the symbol of the fire service? Also known as the Cross Pattee-Nowry, the symbol is essentially borrowed from the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, a charitable organization that helped the sick and poor by building hospitals and clinics. Later, they assisted the knights of the Crusades in an effort to assist the Island of Malta-from which the Maltese Cross derives its name.

Why are Dalmatians considered firehouse dogs? Dogs were helpful to direct and guard horses during the era of the horse drawn fire engine. Dalmatians were probably favored because of their size, friendly nature, ability to train, and ability to care for themselves. Likewise urban and nearby departments gave away puppies as new litters were born thus creating a fire house tradition.
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