One reason for the belief that fire protection may be too costly is that people may not understand what fire protection really is. They are not sure whether the protection they pay for is the protection they need or whether they are paying more than their fair share.
Careful planning offers the best approach toward balancing costs with fire protection needs as reflected by the thoughtful desires of local citizens. Involving citizens in the planning process provides the opportunity to inform them regarding fire protection costs, benefits and risks and thereby gain their support for implementing a fire protection system of known performance and cost.
This matter of cost and value is no small problem, but it is the basis for justifying the expense of needed fire protection.
Determining the cost and value of fire protection has been traditionally difficult. Few communities actually try to measure such things, consequently few know the true costs of operating a fire protection system. The expenses or funding an organized fire department are regularly calculated, but they are by no means all the costs of fire protection. Here are a few of these “other” costs:
Water distribution and maintenance costs for pipes, hydrants and plant capacity and operations used for fire protection
Fire insurance costs
Costs for built-in fire protection such as sprinkler systems and smoke and heat detectors
Private fire brigade
In addition, the costs of administering building and fire codes, building permit and inspection programs, and other similarly oriented fire protection programs, must be included.
There are also benefits to these costs which are important, such as:
Life safety, which is applicable to anyone
Fire loss, the reduction in dollar losses to property as a result of fire
Job loss, the reduction in the number of jobs, or the dollar value of those jobs, lost to fire