Fire Commission Report Asks U.S. Administration, Academy
The establishment of a United States fire administration and a national fire academy are among the recommendations made to President Nixon in the final report of the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control.
The commission, which is ending its legislated two-year existence, stressed fire prevention as the area offering the largest return for time and money spent on reducing the nation’s fire losses, both human and material. The report also emphasized the need for massive education of everyone, from children to oldsters, in how to prevent fires and how to react when fire threatens. Furthermore, the commission declared, there is great need for research in both fire behavior and better fire equipment and extinguishing agents.
1 State and local governments must provide matching participation.
2 $26 million does not include the current fire research budgets of federal agencies. Funds shown here would be used to contract with public and private agencies where appropriate.
3 Recommended annual funding level for three-year conservative rural fire protection program. Funds have not yet been appropriated, but commission feels funding is more than justified by losses in the areas covered.
Other needs of the fire service, the commission stated, include improved personal protective equipment for fire fighters, funds for assisting state and local training programs, the development of regional master plans by fire departments, a national fire data system, funds to assist fire departments in upgrading their equipment, more burn treatment centers, fire detection and alarm systems in homes, institutions and all types of buildings where people gather for work or play, and the expansion of rural fire protection.
Annual cost of program
The commission put an annual price tag of $153 million on its proposals. The average annual expenditures for the first five years were estimated by the commission as shown in the accompanying table.
Some of the proposed funds, the commission said, should be regarded as seed monies “to aid and encourage state and local governments to improve their programs and to sponsor research and information exchange.”
Estimated savings of lives and money
The commission predicted that if the proposed expenditures are made, “a reduction of 5 percent a year in deaths, injuries, and property losses is an attainable goal.” The reduction rate “might be expected to level off as losses approach half of what they are today,” the report predicted, until it reached a plateau in about 14 years. The expectation is that about 600 lives would be saved the first year, a cumulative total of 8300 lives saved in five years and 28,000 lives in 10 years. Furthermore, some 119,000 persons “would be spared the trauma of serious burn injury, the commission claimed.
During the first year, the commission conjectured, the savings from a 5 percent reduction in dollar losses from property destruction, personal earnings interruption and burn treatment costs would total $350 million. This, the commission asserted, “is considerably more than we have projected for the annual costs of a federal program for each of its first full five years.”
The commission estimated the annual cost of fire in the United States at $11.4 billion as follows: