Little Known Facts

The average monthly cost of fire in America is twice the average monthly cost of the war in Iraq.

For the past four and half years, the war in Iraq has been on the prime news every single night, and has dominated all political debates across the country. Needless to say then, it is not hard to fathom that the war and its associated costs will still be the center of attention next year, and more than likely play the determining role in our 2008 Presidential election.

Myself, I personally dislike party politics and mudslinging, especially during the election years. Because even the simplest of statistics, facts and figures, are often aggrandized and distorted by the professional spin masters from both sides of the isle who are busy at work manipulating the public opinion in their own favor and against their opponents.

I like to analyze the raw and unbiased data myself, and based on sheer statistics, try to draw my own conclusions. In doing so, comparative analysis always helps put things in perspective for me.

That being said, from a completely non-political, unbiased, and non-partisan point of view, and with the utmost respect for our bravest sons and daughters serving in the military, my intent in writing this article was to compare the total cost of war in Iraq, with the total national cost of fire in America.

I am quite cognizant that the subject of war is politically charged, and rather delicate to address in any sort of comparative analysis. But then, I believe that by comparing our national fire loss statistics with the more familiar and tangible national loss statistics such as the war in Iraq, our public could have a better understanding of our nation's fire problem.

For decades, both the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have provided us with great reports that detailed annual fire loss and fatalities statistics. Yet, the absolute majority of the Americans and most of our elected representatives are completely unaware of the true magnitude of the total cost of fire in our country. Therefore, I believe that such comparative analysis could surely be a valuable public education tool.

In an article dated November 13, 2007, titled "War costs could total $1.6 trillion by 2009, panel estimates." CNN reported the predicted cost of war in Iraq. The article indicates that based on the congressional committee report by the Joint Economic Committee, "the total economic impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated at $1.6 trillion by 2009". This article also indicates that "the committee calculated the average cost of both wars for a family of four would be $20,900 from 2002 to 2008."

This report indicates that their predicted cost of war is higher than the government estimated and states "That is nearly double the $804 billion in direct war costs the White House requested so far from Congress...the higher total economic impact comes from, among other things, the cost of borrowing money to pay for the war, lost productivity, higher oil prices and the cost of health care for veterans, the committee said." The actual cost of the war which has been about $140 billion a year for the last four years and the article indicates "we cannot afford this war -- $12 billion dollars a month?" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nevada), said. "We just can't. We can't continue."

Now my friends, let's do a similar calculation to find out how much money an average family of four pays for the total cost of fire in the United States during the same six year span of time, as calculated by the congressional report.

Here are the facts. NFPA's report title "The Total Cost of Fire in United States", published on December 2006, indicates "for 2004, the total cost is estimated at $231-278 billion, or roughly 2 to 2 1/2% of U.S. gross domestic product." Based on the statistics available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total estimated population of the United States in 2004 was 293,655,404.

Now divide the total cost of fire by the total population to calculate the total cost of fire per capita in the United States in 2004:

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