NFPA enlists the help of a cartoon for Fire Prevention Week 1953
NFPA Journal®, January/February 2009
By Scott Sutherland
Smokey Stover wore his fire hat backwards, referred to fires as "confoogrations," and raced to emergencies in his "Foo Mobile," a two-wheeled fire truck that looked like a cross between a chariot and an oversized meat grinder. The bright-eyed Smokey was the madcap creation of cartoonist Bill Holman, who drew the popular "Smokey Stover" Sunday strip for the New York News-Chicago Tribune syndicate from 1935 until his retirement in 1973.
Smokey and his pals were at their hyper-kinetic peak in 1953 when Holman created a special "Smokey Stover" comic book for NFPA as part of Fire Prevention Week . "Noted fireman Smokey Stover of Lisle Hose Co. No. 1 will work an overtime shift this year," announced Fire News, the NFPA newsletter. In the first issue (upper right), Smokey—accompanied by Sparky®, NFPA’s canine mascot — encounters mattress fires, problematic fireworks, and a friend who washes clothes in gasoline, with predictably combustible results.
NFPA archives include at least one more special-issue "Smokey Stover," produced for Fire Prevention Week in 1954. On the cover of that issue, Holman—who once dreamt of being a firefighter, and whose New York City office was located next to a firehouse—accompanied his name with the tag "Doctor of Firelosophy." On the first page (right), his tag read "Flame Flunky."