Friday, August 9, 2013
August 9 - Smokey Bear
On August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear first appeared on a public service poster issued by the U.S. Forest Service along with state foresters and the Wartime Advertising Council. It showed a bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire. Concern about fire prevention had been heightened during World War II because fewer men were available to fight them, but especially because Japan viewed wildfires as a potential weapon against the U.S. West Coast. Starting in 1942, Japan’s military used air raids (mainly in Oregon), incendiary bombs and fire balloons to attempt to start forest fires. Use of Walt Disney’s “Bambi” on wartime educational prevention posters was only temporary. A cooperative prevention program settled on using a bear, whose name “Smokey” was inspired by a heroic New York City firefighter’s nickname. The slogan "Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires" was developed in 1947 (altered in 2001 to say “Wildfires”). The heyday of Smokey’s popularity extended largely through the mid-1960s. Pictured: Smokey then and now.