Almost 30 years have passed since the Nesquehoning Fire Company No. 1 started the Fire Prevention Program for the students at Panther Valley Elementary School in Nesquehoning.

In recent years, the program extended to include the remaining communities in the Panther Valley, namely Summit Hill, Lansford and Coaldale.

The current program, coordinated by Fire Chief John McArdle, offered a 20-minute movie on fire prevention to the children and then has firefighters conduct a procedure on crawling along the floor to safety. Students also had a chance to visit the fire trucks parked in the back of the school.

This year, a smoke house, obtained by Lansford Fire Company through a FEMA grant, was also part of the show. The inflatable house is shared with the other fire companies in the area.

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more that 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on Oct. 8, and continued into the next day when it did most of its damage.

According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow, belonging to Mrs.Catherine O'Leary, kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday though Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.