Exclusive: Fire Administrator Outlines Goals

DALLAS, Texas -- Following his swearing in at FRI today, new U.S. Fire Administrator Kelvin Cochran met with Firehouse.com to share some of his short-term goals for the fire service.

In his first days on the job, Cochran said he was briefed by the staff of the U.S. Fire Administration and spent time in Emmitsburg, Md. at the National Fire Academy, establishing expectations and identifying projects and initiatives.

When asked about his top concerns and interests, Cochran confirmed that he has many.

"There is no sequence to these -- there is a sense of urgency for certain initiatives and we'll have to address them simultaneously," he said.

"We need to evaluate USFA's involvement and accomplishments as related to America Burning and America Burning Revisited," he continued. "We need to develop a report card to measure our performance against these recommendations and see what we have yet to accomplish."

The initial America Burning report was issued in 1974 and focused attention on the nation's fire problem, resulting in the creation of the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy.

Additionally, Cochran is looking to re-evaluate life safety initiatives to determine whether the USFA is being assertive enough in the mission to save civilian lives and property. While these losses have been going down, Cochran wants to make sure every effort is being made in fire prevention and fire safety education, and the agency hasn't simply become comfortable with the pace of reductions.

An additional internal effort will be to evaluate the impact of the Assistance to Firefighters grants and the SAFER grants to make sure credible evidence is collected to show that these programs are effective.

Furthermore, Cochran plans a more assertive effort to reduce line of duty deaths in the fire service. "I don't believe we've played as aggressive a role as we need," he said.

At a press event wrapping the morning's events, Cochran also stressed the need for firefighters to wear their seat belts to further protect themselves while on the job.

"In spite of the challenges of our times, keep doing what you're doing in your communities, giving citizens the very best," Cochran said in closing. "Our country still needs firefighters -- they are our domestic warriors. Hang in there until times get better ... and they will get better."

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