Heroes of Fire Prevention Week: Dalmatians and More

There are so many reasons to educate ourselves during Fire Prevention Week every October. Keep reading to learn about why Fire Prevention Week was started, and how firefighters, dalmatians and Indigenous fire prevention techniques can all help to stop wildfires.

Why is Fire Prevention Week in October?

The first Presidential proclamation of Fire Prevention Week was made in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge. Every year in October, Fire Prevention Week happens.

Fire Prevention week was started because of the Great Chicago Fire. The Great Chicago Fire caused horrific damage to the city of Chicago. The story of the Great Chicago Fire is one example of how disastrous events can lead to positive reform.

Fire Prevention Week ultimately led to positive changes. Since the 2000s, there have been significantly fewer fires. However, the acres of land that are affected by fires has increased. Thanks to Fire Prevention Week, we all live much safer lives today.


Firefighters are usually licensed as paramedics because they need to be trained in first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Firefighters respond to emergency situations where people are injured, suffocating or burned.

Why do firefighters use dalmatians?

Dalmatians are known to get along great with horses. Scientists who studied the relationship between horses and dalmatians found that dalmatians would naturally take a rear side position to guard the horse. For this reason, when firefighters rode horses, dalmatians would guard the firefighters.

Black and white photo of a man holding two leashes, one with a dalmatian and the other with a horse.

Dalmatians are known have a good, friendly relationship with horses.

What is a wildfire?

A regular fire can turn into a wildfire when a fire breaks out into an area that is already very dry, and then continues to burn uncontrollably for a long time. The smoke of wildfires is black, and a wildfire becomes very hot.

In the past, wildfires were mostly caused by natural causes such as lightning or volcanic activity. But today, wildfires occur more often due to human activity. Conditions like droughts and heatwaves can also lead to wildfires. One example of how a wildfire can start due to human activity is when a person starts a fire for camping or cooking, then does not assure that the fire is properly put out. When left unattended and without trained firefighters, fire spreads very quickly. Especially in dry environments like in northern Canada, southern California and Australia near Brisbane and the northern coastline.

How do wildfires affect humans and animals?

As a result of wildfires, some animals are losing their habitat. Animals hide from the fire to stay safe. Animals may stay safe by climbing up into tree canopies. Other animals simply leave the forest until the heat and smoke are gone. Forest creatures are very smart and adaptable. However, forest animals have trouble with more severe and fast-spreading fires.

People who live near wildfires may experience headaches from smoke. Tight-fitting masks and using an indoor air filter can alleviate headaches from smoke.

Indigenous Fire Prevention and Management

Indigenous tribes that used to live in areas that now have wildfires have proven techniques to lower fire damage. Indigenous tribes would purposefully light fires, in order to partially burn the forest. That way, when a fire occurred, there was less to burn. When the tree canopies are dense, the fire spreads from tree to tree very easily. After the area has been cleared, new seeds and plant life can regrow. Indigenous fire prevention techniques are continually being studied at universities like Stanford and UC Davis.

Fire Prevention Week Creative Challenge

Imagine a technology that could help save a small animal from wildfires. What is it?

Classroom Resources