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America Burning

The United States has a Fire Problem

Sometimes it is hard to remember where we are going without looking at the past.  The America Burning report provides a foundation of what the US was battling in the 70’s and is a must read for all inspectors of all disciplines.

The America Burning report was issued in 1974 and was intended to focus attention on the United States fire problem.  The commission had 90 recommendations from code requirements to changes in administration.  Some of these recommendations still plague the United States today.

The report highlights the need of the fire service and related professions to provide various actions to aid in reducing the fire problem.  As a result of the report, U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Academy were created.

One of the recommendations from the Commission is that all local governmental units in the United States have in force an adequate building code and fire prevention code or adopt whichever they lack.”

The report is quoted as saying:

The training of inspectors is, in many places, woefully inadequate. In one major city, the only training for fire prevention inspectors consists of sending them out for a few days with a senior inspector.  Architects and engineers complain about inflexibility in the codes, but one reason codes tend toward rigidity and detailed specifications is that local building officials and inspectors are not equipped, because of their inadequate training, to evaluate alternative solutions and tradeoffs.

The Commission recommends that local governments provide competent personnel, training programs for inspectors, and coordination among the various departments involved to enforce effectively the local building and fire prevention codes.   A key statement is that representatives from the fire department should participate in reviewing the fire safety aspects of plans for new building construction and alterations to old buildings.

Does the America Burning report still apply today, nearly 36 years since it was published?  Are we starting to trend back down this road?  Read the report and let us know your thoughts?

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