Dick Vernor Guest of Memphis Rotary Club
Richard E. Vernor, Manager of the Fire Prevention Department of the Western Actuarial Bureau and Chairman of the Fire Department Instructors’ conference held annually in Memphis, Tenn., was a guest of the Rotary Club of that city during Fire Prevention Week.
Mr. Vernor stated that the nation is not winning the home-front battle against fires. “The national estimated fire loss in the last twelve months, ending August 31, was $412,000,000. In 1932, the national fire loss was $235,000,000,” Mr. Vernor said.
In the past, fires have killed more Americans than were lost in battle, Mr. Vernor added. “During the past twentyfive years more have died by fire than the total killed in World War I and the Civil War combined. Since 1900, fire has killed almost half a million people, resulted in property loss of fifteen billion dollars.”
“The causes of fire are faulty physical conditions and faulty human behavior,” Mr. Vernor said. “The fundamental reasons for the great industrial losses have been quick war-time expansion and inferior materials used because of haste. Large areas are subject to one fire with the large values not segregated.”
Mr. Vernor advocated cooperation with all existing agencies, whose objective it is to prevent fire waste.
He praised the Memphis Fire Department, headed by Chief Connie O’Sullivan, which has won the National Award for Fire Prevention four times, and has won the all-year-round award for the Inter-Chamber Fire Waste Contest, sponsored by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce twice.
“The community, as well as the Fire Department, has a job to do,” Mr. Vernor said. “It is to be accomplished through municipal agencies, public buildings, fire ordinances, building codes and public fire protection.
“Public agencies can educate the people. Individual business and industry has its responsibility.
“And of prime importance is a person’s own job in the home. In 1942, 322,000 houses were destroyed by fire. Normal care and dilligence can prevent this great fire waste.”