View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 3, 1997




Of all the disasters that confront Americans every year, few cause more loss of life and property than fire. Across the country each day, fire threatens our communities, our livelihoods, and our lives. Last year alone, almost 5,000 men, women, and children perished in fires, and nearly 80 percent of these deaths occurred in homes. This tragic statistic is a call to action for all of us, not only to remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent fires, but also to learn how to react quickly and sensibly when fires occur.

Many people do not understand the speed at which fire can spread, the intensity of its heat, or the toxic power of its smoke. Because a quick, decisive response often means the difference between life and death, it is important to learn about fire, to recognize how deadly a threat it is, and to react to it immediately. The National Fire Protection Association, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and our Nation's fire services, has selected "Know When to Go! React Fast To Fire!" as the theme of this year's Fire Prevention Week. This theme reinforces a simple but essential element of fire safety: escape planning.

Because approximately 80 percent of last year's fatal fires occurred in the home, every family should develop a home escape plan. If a smoke or fire alarm sounds, everyone must react quickly. When away from home, we need to make it a habit to locate the nearest exit in any building we occupy. Most important, we must never reenter a burning building.

By following these basic safety rules, we can save lives and reduce the risks to our Nation's firefighters. Every 16 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. Last year, thousands of firefighters were injured, and 92 made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Our Nation will acknowledge the extraordinary dedication of these valiant men and women by paying tribute to America's career and volunteer firefighters on Sunday, October 5, 1997, at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 5 through October 11, 1997, as Fire Prevention Week. I encourage the people of the United States to take an active role in fire prevention not only during this week, but throughout the year. I also call upon all Americans to honor the courageous members of our Nation's fire and emergency services by learning about the dangers posed by fire and by preparing their friends and family members to react immediately and safely to fires when they occur.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.


# # #