19 May 2022


The High Aggregate Costs of Fire

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Based on statistics, fire accidents and consequential fatalities in the United States (U.S) are alarming. For instance, in the year 2014 alone, the country experienced approximately 1,298,000 fire incidents. These incidents led to deaths of 3,275 civilians and 64 firefighters. They also caused boldly injury to 15,775 civilians and 65,880 firefighters. In the same regard, the financial cost of these fires is staggering. Giesler (2016) argues that the U.S government has spent up to 11.5 million dollars to cater for property damages and compensation owing to a fire. The statistics above indicate that there is something amiss in so far as fire prevention and education is concerned. Ideally, any society that strictly adheres to the provisions of fire prevention and education is unlikely to experience such high incidences of fires, civilian and firefighter injuries, and deaths. Nevertheless, since 2014, the U.S has made considerable progress on fire prevention and education. This is by introducing new fire codes and protection systems to help improve the situation.

High aggregate costs of fire in the U.S and lower perceptions of fire risks and costs

Historically, the U.S has one of the world’s worst fire records in the world (FEMA (2002). For instance, fire prevention efforts reveal patterns of reaction and inaction which point towards a reactive mindset regarding combatting fire. This is as opposed to a proactive mindset which is more effective. The proactive fire prevention and education efforts in the U.S have largely been spearheaded by the insurance industry (Diamantes, 2010). There is also a notion within the public fraternity that fire prevention is meant for commercial buildings which house public offices and other public amenities. As a result, the general public does not take the various fire prevention and education programs seriously. Instead, they consider it a responsibility of commercial building owners. Similarly, the public perception of fire risks and costs remain low amidst high national expenditure on fire prevention and education. Moreover, except for building fires, most forest fires have always started from households before spreading to the nearby forests. According to the National Fire Protection Authority, 50.8 % of all fires in the U.S have been started by cooking processes in the households while 6.4% have been caused by careless handling of the various sources of fires (FEMA, 2002).

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The disparity between high national aggregate costs of fire and lower perceptions of fire risks and costs emanates from the structure of the firefighting department in the country. Currently, the U.S fire department is organized in a paramilitary manner where the firefighters are sworn and uniformed members of the department. The above structure encourages complacency in public. For instance, once the public is assured of a fully-fledged department in charge of fire accidents and incidents, personal responsibility tends to be low (Diamantes, 2010). Thus, there is a lack of awareness and ignorance amongst the citizens regarding fire prevention and education. This is primarily because according to the citizens, someone else is in charge of such responsibilities. The U.S has continually and consistently implemented policies and strategies aimed at securing the country against fire accidents. However, if the National Fire Prevention Authority is to realize more effectiveness in its activities, there is a need to increasingly involve the public, often encouraging adherence to fire safety and prevention measures (FEMA, 2002).

Ramifications of ignoring fire prevention and education

Despite the intensity of probable damages that can arise from a fire outbreak, there is a low level of fire prevention education amongst the U.S citizens. Therefore, ignoring fire prevention education has got numerous ramifications. The first ramification of ignoring fire prevention and education is the increase in the overall risk of fire accidents due to increased incidences of fire accidents (FEMA, 2002). When the society is aware of the level of damage to property and life that can arise from fire outbreaks, then the level of caution is likely to increase. According to Bruhn (2011), most fire accidents in the U.S often result from careless handling of sources of fire coupled with high levels of ignorance. While the positive functions of fire are widely known, knowledge of the various sources of fire accidents is limited. Likewise, there is a limited awareness of the veracious methods of controlling or reducing the effects of fire accidents in case of occurrence. Hence, fire prevention and education help create awareness in the society, thereby reducing the probability of fire accidents.

Another notable consequence of ignoring fire prevention and education is that it increases the level of damage to life and property in case of a fire outbreak. One of the most important aspects of fire prevention and education is that it increases awareness on the various classes of fire as well as the most effective methods of putting them out. Bruhn (2011) argues that lack of fire education makes people use the methods of putting out the fire, only to further ignite the same. For example, it is a common practice in society for people to pour water on any fire, regardless of its source. A limited number of people understand the basic chemical composition of fire and subsequently do not know that water, which contains oxygen, can support combustion.

Fire prevention and education have been incorporated into the building industry to ensure that all buildings have exits to be used by occupants in case of a fire outbreak. According to Cote (2008), fire education demands that there are specific locations where fire extinguishers ought to be placed. The positioning of extinguishers should be done according to the most probable source of fire. Hence, ignoring fire prevention and education may lead to locking people inside buildings to the extent that it may take too long for rescuers to reach the victims. Also, people may get lost while trying to find their way out of a burning building. Worse still, Cote (2008) notes that until recently, a significant number of buildings in the U.S either had installed the wrong type of fire extinguisher or had the right extinguisher installed in the wrong position. 

In conclusion, when it comes to fire, prevention is better than cure. Failure to adhere to the provisions of fire prevention and education can be interpreted as a gesture for welcoming the ramifications of fire accidents. Based on various research findings, the level of adherence to the provisions fire prevention and education is low in the U.S. Therefore; there is a need to increase awareness to reduce fire incidences as well as minimise the amount of damages and losses incurred in case of such incidents.


Bruhn, J. G. (2011). Conceptions of community: Past and present. In The sociology of community connections (pp. 29-46). Springer Netherlands.

Cote, A. E. (2008). Fire protection handbook (Vol. 2). National Fire Protection Association.

Diamantes, D. (2010). Principles of Fire Prevention . Cengage Learning.

FEMA (2002). America at Risk: America Burning Recommissioned . Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Giesler, M. (2016). Fire and Life Safety Educator: Principles and Practice . Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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