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Wednesday Afternoon Session - page 14 / 67





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waterfront conflagrations, but the day of the great sweeping fire involving dozens or hundreds of buildings in our city areas, is largely past.  It has been about 25 years since we have had a conflagration of the sort involving a loss of as much as $10,000,000, and no conflagration to match those of Chicago in 1871, Boston in 1872, Baltimore in 1904, or San Francisco in 1906.

It is proper to mention these, because the greatly reduced chance of conflagrations is due to the development of our municipal fire and water departments.  Improvements in building construction, especially the general exclusion of wood-shingle roofings, of course, has helped reduce the chance of conflagration, but I am addressing these observations to the effect of the improvements in firefighting facilities.

Estimates of fire losses available to us are expressed in dollars, and you do not need me to tell you that the dollar today is not what it was even 5 years ago.  In dollars the 1946 estimated loss was about the same as that of 1926.  In terms of relative destruction the 1946 loss is only about 77 percent of that of 1926.  The estimated losses in 1946 increased in dollars 16 percent over the previous year.  In terms of relative destruction this increase was less than 5 percent.

A better picture of the spectacular progress which we have made against first comes from a consideration of the amount destroyed in comparison to the total amount of property there is to burn.  The amount of property which could burn has greatly increased since 1926, yet even the distorted dollar values show that we are burning, currently, a little less than then.  The amount this year will be only a fraction of the total which might burn.  Add in your mind to the normal increase in building since 1926 the huge expansion of the war years, and you can see the extent of the accomplishment.

There is more and more to burn every year, yet less and less of it is burning.

The report before you has been prepared on the basis of ideas supplied by members of the committee.  These were developed at meetings of four working subcommittees early in April.  A meeting of the full committee was held on April 14, and following that meeting the draft which has been circulated here at the Conference was prepared.  It was reviewed yesterday at a very fully attended meeting and was given extended discussion.  The numerous items in the action program in the report were approved.  At the same time a number of changes were made which will appear in the published report.  Practically all of these were of an editorial character, none of which change any fundamental parts of the program recommended.

Mr. Chairman, I move the acceptance of the report by the Conference and the approval of the Action Program for the Firefighting Services as presented in the report.  [Applause.]

Chairman Fleming.  Thank you, Mr. Bond.  You have all had copies of the report.  Mr. Bond has explained to you the very slight changes in it, except some editorial work.  Is there any second to this motion?

{The motion was seconded by Mr. Frank McAuliffe, was put to a vote, and was unanimously approved.}

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