With the current economic challenges that our country is battling, and with the budget cuts that the fire service is facing all across the land, today it is even more important than ever before for us all to intensify our efforts to better educate our public about the menace of fire.
We are well aware that shutting down fire stations and laying off firefighters have direct and immediate impacts on our communities' levels of fire safety. But, we also need to recognize that eliminating the pubic education programs, laying off fire inspectors and reducing our code enforcement capabilities, and allowing the special interest groups to dictate adoption of less stringent building construction codes, have long term impacts and reduce our community's safety as well.
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 performing their responsibilities in mitigating hazards and protecting their communities.
Logically then, a major part of our public education efforts must be on better informing our elected officials, so that they are well aware of the true magnitude of failure, and the direct impact and consequences of their decisions on their communities' levels of life safety and fire protection.
It is important that we realize the wisdom in the old saying that "you reap the harvest that you sow". Don't believe me? Just ask the "Three Little Pigs & The Big Bad Wolf."
AZARANG (OZZIE) MIRKHAH P.E., CBO, EFO, MIFireE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is the Fire Protection Engineer for the City of Las Vegas Department of Fire & Rescue. Ozzie served on the national NFPA 13 Technical Committee for Sprinkler System Discharge Design Criteria and serves on the IAFC Fire Life Safety Section Board of Directors. He was the first recipient of the IAFC's Excellence in Fire and Life Safety Award in 2007. To read Ozzie's complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. Ozzie has participated in two Radio@Firehouse podcasts: Six Days, Six Fires, 19 Children and 9 Adults Killed and Fire Marshal's Corner. You can reach Ozzie by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.