In Search Of...

I hope that party politics can take the back seat to the individuals' qualifications for serving at the helm of these organizations.

Looking at the fire loss statistics of the decades past, it is quite clear that we in the fire service have come a long way in addressing the fire problem in our country. Thanks in large to our national fire prevention efforts, and specially the development of the smoke alarms technology, and their installation in 96% of the American homes during the past couple of decades; there has been a great measure of success in reducing the national fire fatalities.

Such significant statistical reductions show that our focus on fire prevention, even though still less that adequate, has made a tremendous impact. We should take pride in our accomplishments. Yet to be able to provide our public with a higher level of protection, we must further build upon our successes and have much higher priority and more emphasis on our fire prevention responsibilities.

With all that said, it is only logical to expect that the next USFA Administrator to have a deep understanding of the organizational mission of the USFA, and to have a proven track record of commitment and higher priority for fire prevention in addressing our country's fire problem. After all, that was, and still is the fundamental reason for the USFA's organizational existence.

Strongly believing in this concept, about a year ago, long before the Presidential election; a few prominent fire service friends of mine, worked on drafting a "resolution" for the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) to encourage our country's next President, to focus strongly on the qualifications of his candidates for the next USFA Administrator position.

Obviously, we did not have any particular candidate in mind, and this wasn't an endorsement of sort by any means. The intent of the draft "resolution" was merely to underline the importance of having a much higher priority on fire prevention in addressing our national fire problem.

It is also important to clarify that our intent for focusing on fire prevention, was not at all to deemphasize the importance of fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazmat, or any/all of our other fire service responsibilities.

Our intent was to reiterate the findings of the 1973 America Burning report in emphasizing the importance of being proactive and taking the preventive approaches in addressing our country's fire problem, rather than merely reacting to it.

The "resolution" attached below, was originally drafted last July, to be presented to the National Advisory Committee (NAC) of the CFSI.

"Whereas, the citizens of the United States more than the citizens of most other industrialized nations continue to experience unacceptable levels of both social and economic cost due to fire response, injuries and deaths of both civilians and firefighters, and property loss each year as has been confirmed again and again from all data sources that in spite of significant gains made in the last 30 years, a plateau has been reached where further losses are unlikely without a significant, sustained, comprehensive, measured and evaluated system of interrelated efforts of education, engineering and enforcement initiatives, and

Whereas, the occupant of the position of United States Fire Administrator needs to be an individual who can and who by law has traditionally been expected to exercise bold and decisive leadership to bring together all interested parties, both public and private, in a united program of commitment, passion and drive toward the intended goals as originally identified in Public Law 93-498, "The Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974," and

Whereas, the nationally-representative members who authored, "America Burning: The Report of the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control," in 1973, envisioned a fire-safe America required that all aspects of fire prevention be championed as the most likely way to dramatically reduce the nation's deplorable losses from fire, and

Whereas, more than a dozen major national studies since have consistently come to the same conclusion, namely that the vast majority of continuing unacceptable fire losses can be prevented via the exercise of strong inclusive leadership to assert comprehensive implementation of proven successful strategies from both this and from other countries, and