Fire Corps Participates in Vision 20/20 Washington Forum

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Fire claims an average of 4,000 lives and $12.7 billion in property damage each year. Fire Corps joined fire safety experts from across the nation for the Vision 20/20 Washington Forum in Washington, DC, from March 31-April 1 to develop a national strategic agenda to reduce the loss of life and property from fire.

"This project is unprecedented in scope and depth," said Vision 20/20 Project Manager Jim Crawford, Fire Marshal for the City of Vancouver, Washington. "We have assembled an incredible array of experts from a diversity of fields to help craft a national plan to reduce the loss of life and property from fire. Through our collective efforts we will develop strategies that will save lives, now and in the future."

Funded through a grant awarded to the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) - USA Branch by the Department of Homeland Security’s Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program, the Vision 20/20 Washington Forum drew experts from across the United States as well as IFE representatives from Australia and England, countries with innovative and cutting-edge programs that have significantly reduced fire deaths up to 50 percent. Presentations on international practices were delivered by the Head of Community Services for the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Services in the United Kingdom and the Chief Executive Officer for the Country Fire Authority in Australia.

At the conclusion of the Forum, Bonnie Woodruff spoke about the vital importance of improving fire safety across the nation. In 1995, Woodruff's only son, Ben, was killed in a fraternity house fire at the University of North Carolina on graduation day and Mother's Day. Since that time, Woodruff has become an outspoken advocate for fire safety, recently joining with other mothers who have lost children in campus fires in the Common Voices Coalition.

Forum participants identified five specific strategies with corresponding action plans to reduce fires in America. These include:

  • Advocacy: Get on the agenda to make America safe from fire.

  • Education and Marketing: Establish a consistent, sustained multi-faceted education/social marketing campaign to reduce risks and losses from fire by getting people to change their behavior toward fire safety.

  • Culture: Shift the organizational culture within the fire service so that prevention is accepted and supported as a primary service for public safety.

  • Technology: Promote and leverage existing and new technology to enhance fire and life safety.

  • Standards: Development and application of codes and standards to enhance public and firefighter safety and preserve community assets.

Crawford saw a common theme emerge from the 170 participants, all of whom are passionate about fire and life safety. "They want to see action. They want to show that taxpayers' money was not wasted."

More information about Vision 20/20 is available at www.strategicfire.org.

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