Speak Up: Cutting Fire Prevention Budgets Shows "We Have Our Priorities Wrong"

Congratulations to Daniel Byrne on an excellent article “Global Lessons: Bringing Fire Prevention Home” posted on Firehouse.com. I have been preaching the “gospel” of fire prevention for more than 40 years. I have been teaching fire prevention in our local junior college since 1972 and I was one of the ad hoc committee members who developed the first certification courses for fire inspectors in the nation. The Illinois Fire Inspectors Association (of which I am a retired member) has led the nation in fighting these battles.

Unfortunately, fire prevention is the first place to receive cutbacks when times get tough.

I was an inspector/investigator with the Elk Grove Village, IL Fire Department for 31-plus years. Elk Grove Village is and was a unique community. During the 1970s and into the 1990s, we were home to more than 3,700 industrial and commercial occupancies ranging in size from 5,000 square feet to 1,250,000 square feet in one building. Our residential population was 35,000 and our daytime population was 95,000-plus. At that time, we had up to 12 inspectors in the Fire Prevention Bureau. While the industrial park has changed over time, they are now down to two inspectors.

I believe very strongly in fire prevention. I have maintained for my entire career that we will save more lives and property with proper code enforcement and education than any line firefighter will ever save. We have our priorities wrong.

Richard J. Keyworth, CFPS

Adjunct Instructor

Harper College

Palatine, IL