Proclamation 6736

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By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The United States has made tremendous advances through the years in reducing the terrible toll that fire takes on our citizens. In 1925, when President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week, he noted that nearly 15,000 lives were lost each year to fire in our country. Fortunately, the numbers we report today are considerably lower. Despite this important trend, the vast majority of fire fatalities-almost 80 percent-still occur in our homes, in the places where we should feel safest.

A key line of defense against home fires is the protection provided by smoke detectors. But smoke detectors must be operating properly to furnish the early warning necessary to allow safe escape from a fire. Even though 90 percent of our Nation's homes have at least one smoke detector installed, about one-third of all homes in which fires occurred had smoke detectors that were not functioning correctly, usually because of faulty or missing batteries. To emphasize the importance of keeping our smoke detectors in good working order, the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association are working with our Nation's fire service and other emergency management professionals to communicate effectively this year's Fire Prevention Week theme, "Test Your Detector for Life."

Early warning of fire and smoke is critical because the majority of deaths as a result of home fires occur at night when people are most vulnerable. Smoke usually does not awaken us-instead it induces a deeper sleep. We need smoke detectors to alert us to the danger. During Fire Prevention Week, 1994, and throughout the entire year, it is important to remember four key points about home smoke detectors. First, make sure you have enough detectors. One detector should be installed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. As an added measure of protection, consider installing a smoke detector inside each bedroom. Second, test smoke detectors every month. Third, replace the batteries at least once a year. Fourth, replace your smoke detectors with new units if they are more than 10 years old. These four simple points could save lives and avoid serious injuries should a fire occur.

As we all think about the lifesaving message of Fire Prevention Week, let us also consider the dedication of the brave men and women of our Nation's fire service who risk their lives regularly to protect us. Last year, 78 firefighters died in the line of duty, with an estimated 101,500 injuries. These courageous individuals will be honored on Sunday, October 16, 1994, during the Thirteenth Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Also deserving recognition are those who work within public and private organizations to reduce the toll exacted by fire. Further, we must recognize the efforts of public officials, educators, business leaders, and community and volunteer organizations that are working together to create a safer America.

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 the week beginning October 9, 1994, as Fire Prevention Week. I call upon the people of the United States to plan and participate in fire prevention activities, both this week and throughout the year. I also ask all Americans to pay tribute to those firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to those men and women who continue in the noble tradition of service to their communities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and nineteenth.

William J. Clinton

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 5:05 p.m., October 11, 1994]

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).