Main components of fire problem in United States discussed at recent conference
The chief components of America’s fire problem was the focus of last October’s Wingspread conference, the third such conference held in 20 years.
Eight people with a “demonstrated broad perception of the total fire service” were chosen by a three-man selection committee to objectively discuss fire service issues, said Keith Royer of Iowa State University and a conference participant. No information was given as to who the members of the selection committee were.
The conference group identified 11 areas of concern that contribute to the United States’ fire problem, among them human behavior, such as arson and alcohol/drug abuse; education of the public and training of firefighters; and technology. The other eight areas are in the process of being identified by a strong, attention-getting statement that will be included in the final report, said Mr. Royer. The group also discussed general recommendations to address the components of the fire problem, but, at presstime, no decision had been made to publish these.
The fire problem can be mitigated to a certain degree by making a more fire safe environment, explained Mr. Royer, giving an example of some of the conference issues. Now the question is, should there be more fire safety regulations imposed, such as making it illegal to have a fire and thereby cancelling insurance coverage? The group also predicts a widespread use of home sprinkler systems. “Technology is now advancing to the point where home sprinkler systems will … be affordable and should be considered seriously as the best form of home fire protection,” said William E. Clark, who is a consultant from St. Petersburg, FL, and a conference participant.
The conference was sponsored by the Fire Service Institute of Iow’a State University and The Johnson Foundation. At presstime, the conference report was still being finalized, after which it will be reviewed and agreement by all participants sought prior to being published and distributed on a nationwide basis. For information on obtaining a copy of the report, contact William E. Clark, 7200 34th Street, South (9D), St. Petersburg, FL 3371 1.
In addition to Messrs. Royer and Clark, other participants included: Fire Chief Alan Brunacini, Phoenix, AZ; Deputy Fire Commissioner William F. Foley, Chicago, 1L; David B. Gratz, fire protection consultant, Silver Spring, MD; Bill Randleman, editor of FIRE CHIEF MAGAZINE, Chicago, IL; J. C. Robertson, assistant chief and manager of the I ire Safety Management Division of the Gainesville, FL, Fire Department; and Nancy J. Trench, manager of fire service training at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.