The Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf

When the elected officials are better informed about the basic concepts of community risk assessment and integrated risk management, they could then make better decisions in their responsibilities of protecting their communities.

Now that the residential fire sprinkler requirement is in the 2009 edition of the IRC code, NAHB is mounting pressure on the states and the local jurisdictions all across the country, to not adopt the 2009 edition of the IRC code at all, or at the very least, yank the residential fire sprinkler requirements out of it.

Even more disturbing is the fact that since their failed attempt in Minneapolis last year, NAHB has been lobbying state legislatures in many of the states, not only to prevent them from adopting these building construction codes, but also to strike away the rights of the local jurisdictions to adopt any building construction codes that are more stringent than the minimum adopted state codes.

My last article titled "What's at Stake" focused on informing our fire service peers about this dangerous trend, that if successful, would allow the special interest groups to dictate the level of community safety and fire protection based on their own meager financial interests.

Undoubtedly, this could have a devastating impact not only on our communities' fire protection and life safety, but also on the safety of our own firefighters for many decades to come.

My friends, it is rather simple. After all is said and done, just like anything else in life, it all boils down to being able to live with the consequences of our decisions. It is all about being fully aware of the real magnitude of the problem and knowing what the stakes are. We must be well-informed and be willing to accept the consequences of the decisions that we make today, which will have drastic impact on our lives for many years to come.

That being said, now, even more than ever before, we must truly recognize and appreciate the depth of Bugbee's perspectives. If the public is not well-informed about the problem itself and aware of the consequences of their own decisions, then technology alone will not be enough to address the fire problem.

Bugbee's wisdom is evident in his views that besides utilizing the available technology, we must intensify our focus on better educating our public if we truly intend to substantially reduce the devastation caused by fires in our country.

Bugbee urged us to educate our public so that they are aware of the fire problem and can recognize what is at stake. Knowing the risk factors, failure probabilities and consequences, they are able to make well-informed decisions about their own safety and that of their communities. Simply said, they must truly believe in the fact that preventing fires is everyone's responsibility.

I believe that Bugbee was absolutely right. Although many things have changed in the past six decades, much still remains the same. If we want to address the fire problem in our country and have safer communities, then we must educate our public about the fire problem and the consequences of their decisions. And that is the same for our public officials too.

We must educate our elected officials and public administrators. We must provide them with a true community risk assessment and fire loss management plan. This will allow them to make well-informed decisions based on the community's needs and the availability of current resources, while being fully cognizant of the long-term impacts of such decisions.

Our state legislatures and elected officials at all government levels must be aware that the strength and the integrity of the building construction codes developed at the national levels, are the backbone of our communities' life safety and fire protection. And that true consequence of reductions in the levels of life safety requirements identified in these codes, merely for the purposes of appeasing the special interest groups and relieving their mounting political pressures, would only lead to increased property losses, civilian fire fatalities and injuries, and endangered safety of our firefighters.

Are the state legislators and elected officials aware of what is truly at stake? Are they willing to accept these consequences for many decades to come? Are they willing to jeopardize the safety of our communities, merely for the financial gain of the special interest groups? Is our public fully aware of these issues? The key then is to focus our efforts on better educating our public and our elected officials.