International Firefighters Day May 4th, 2023
By Member Jim Keener
May 4, 2023

International Firefighters Day is observed annually on May 4 internationally, and this year is no exception. Fire is a powerful force and has a reputation for being destructive, but there’s so much more to fire than that. It gives energy in the form of heat, and light that is critical for our survival. However, when this element is out of control, it can be disastrous. It’s important to remember though, that fire is only as dangerous as the person who wields it. International Firefighters Day raises awareness of the importance and safe use of fire.


The ability to control fire dates back to the cavemen era. It resulted in a significant shift in early human behavior. Making fire to generate heat and light allowed people to cook food, increasing the variety and availability of nutrients while also reducing disease by killing organisms in the food. The fire generated would also assist people in staying warm in cold weather, allowing them to live in cooler climates. Fire also prevented attacks from nocturnal predators.

Cooked food has been discovered dating back 1.8 to 2.3 million years, although evidence that fire was used in a controlled manner only appeared 1 million years ago. Fire was also used to create charcoal and control wildlife tens of thousands of years ago, and its use became increasingly sophisticated over time. People worldwide used fire as a tool in landscape management during the Neolithic Revolution. These fires were typically controlled burns, or ‘cool fires,’ instead of uncontrolled ones, which destroy plants and animals, damage the soil, and impact communities negatively.

The use of fossil fuels in power plants, such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal, provides the vast majority of the world’s electricity today. According to the International Energy Agency, these sources supplied nearly 80% of the world’s power in 2002.