JACKSONVILLE – The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal today joined Governor Pat Quinn as he proclaimed Oct. 11 as “Smokey the Dog Day” in Illinois to recognize the achievements of “Smokey,” the Jacksonville Fire Department’s fire dog. The 4-year-old black Labrador/retriever mix was chosen to appear on the television drama “Chicago Fire” after she won the “Today” show’s Top Dog competition. The honor guarantees her a role in an episode of the drama, scheduled to be filmed between Oct. 7 and May 31 in Chicago.
“It is important during National Fire Prevention Week to recognize public safety professionals and dogs like Smokey who play a critical role in preventing and fighting fires across the Land of Lincoln,” Governor Quinn said in his proclamation.
“Today’s proclamation not only recognizes Smokey and the Jacksonville Fire Department but also highlights the important role that mascots play in the lives of the people in general,” State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis, who presented the proclamation on behalf of the Governor, said. “Smokey is not only a symbol of survival and courage but also a true friend of the children of this great state of Illinois.”
Smokey makes his home at the West Lafayette Avenue fire substation in Jacksonville. She was rescued as an 8-week-old puppy from a 2009 residential fire. Firefighters found her trapped in the room where the fire had broken out and were able to carry her to safety. She was given oxygen and slowly nursed back to health by firefighters in Jacksonville.
Now that she’s made a full recovery, Smokey works to train the children of Jacksonville, primarily working with Kindergarten through 3rd graders, teaching them to “stop, drop and roll.” Smokey’s recognition comes near the end of National Fire Prevention Week, which lasts from Oct. 6-Oct. 12.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 blaze that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871.
Smokey the Dog Day Proclamation (PDF)