FIGURES DON’T LIE
FIGURES hold a great fascination for us. We like to add and subtract, multiply and divide—and use, the results in hopeful speculation.
- There has recently come to our attention a whole new lot of statistics on the fire fighting facilities of the country’s 20 largest cities, plus a lot of other figures on costs, losses, etc. They are really very interesting and apparently quite meaningful, because these 20 cities represent more than one-third of our total urban population.
- 9 According to these figures, 27,871 firemen, with equipment valued at about $50 millions, protect the lives and property of more than 23 million people in our 20 largest cities.
- Further analysis of the figures reveals that the total cost of maintaining the fire departments in these 20 cities was about $73 millions—and that the total assessed valuation of their taxable property was the staggering sum of $40 billions.
- Thus, the cost of fire protection figures out about 18¢ a hundred dollars — a pretty mild charge for the services rendered.
- When we pause to reflect that these figures do not take into account the many billions worth of property (such as the contents of buildings, etc.), which are not included in the $40 billions “assessed valuation of taxable property;” and the 23 million lives, upon which no valuation, however fantastic, can be placed, it seems beyond human understanding why those who govern us should hesitate about fire department budgets.