Unity Is Needed to Save Life Of U.S. Fire Administration
The Editor’s Opinion Page
These dreary winter days in Washington, D.C., also are dreary budget consideration days there for the United States Fire Administration. Word that comes from the Capital is that the administration is heading for its last alarm at the end of this fiscal year. Although nothing is final at this time, indications are that the Office of Management and Budget is looking toward a programmed closing down of USFA activities.
A few weeks ago, the fire research program of the National Bureau of Standards similarly was threatened with extinguishment, hut the clamor that was raised by interested parties has resulted in a certain amount of funding for that program.
It was after a strenuous effort by a united fire service that the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration was established in the Department of Commerce in 1974. Again in the Carter Administration, a united fire service fought for and obtained the continuation of the infant organization as the United States Fire Administration when it became a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The USFA is not just another bureaucracy in Washington. It has a record of achievement as the federal focal point for the nation’s fire service that has benefited the citizens of this country by assisting fire departments in every corner of the country to improve their services to the people they protect. The smoke detector program of the USFA has been credited with saving many lives. The National Fire Data Center of the USFA has provided lire departments with the statistics that help them improve their fire prevention and protection programs. The USFA’s development of an entirely new concept of turnout gear—tagged a “protective envelope”—is now being tested in the field.
The awareness of arson—a rapidly growing crime first recognized in our larger cities—received a federal focus through the USFA and the national attack on this crime that claims the lives of fire fighters—as well as residents of the burned buildings—was led by the former USFA administrator, Gordon Vickery.
Countless fire departments now conduct public fire safety education programs throughout the year because of the spadework done by the USFA before the public fire safety education program was transferred to the National Fire Academy.
The USFA staff has shunned the ivory tower and has demonstrated its dedication to serving fire departments of every size— from the smallest to the largest, paid and volunteer.
Now the choice is up to the fire service of the nation. It rests with the fire fighters of the nation. Do you want to continue to receive the benefits of the USFA and continue to improve your services to your people?
There are members of Congress who are willing to listen to the fire service. They will listen to a united fire service that knows what it wants from the federal government. Now is the time for all national fire service organizations to agree on what USFA activities are most important and demand them in a united appeal. Dissension will bring defeat. Unity will achieve the best victory possible in these days of federal budget restrictions.