How have those miraculous results been accomplished? Simply because as a people we recognized the hazards which faced us and were willing to pay the price – in money, in effort and in perseverance, to make the unrelenting fight necessary to bring them under control. We applied the latest scientific and technical knowledge to the problems. We took the preventive measures necessary to eliminate or control the breeding places of the germs responsible for those diseases. We enforced protective measures to safeguard our people against these scourges.
Why can’t we as a Nation attack the fire menace with the same spirit of determination? Why can’t all of us – Nation, State, and municipalities – work together, using every resource at our command to take those corrective measures which are necessary to control fire hazards? Why can’t we apply to this great problem the wealth of knowledge, experience and scientific information available?
The great price which we are paying each year in innocent lives and irreplaceable wealth demands that we do so – now!
In calling together this Conference, President Truman has shown the initiative and leadership essential to the approach to this problem on a truly national scale. I regard this President’s Conference as perhaps the most significant event in our country’s long fight against fire menace. It will enlist great new forcers in the fight against preventable destruction. With the more general acceptance by public officials of responsibility for fire safety in their respective jurisdiction, the promise of greater progress in the future seems assured.
We are facing an era of constantly growing fire hazards brought about by the discovery and widespread use of new and increasingly hazardous chemical compounds. The Texas City disaster on the very eve of this Conference has highlighted the problems of the future. We must speed up our research. We must apply the latest scientific knowledge and technological developments to the conquest of fire in the same manner that scientific tools were used in our victory over contagious diseases. We must attack the fire problem on every front with the same determination that characterized those campaigns against disease.
The organization which I have the honor to represent has been engaged in the fight against fire for over three quarters of a century. I pledge to this Conference that we will not only continue that fight in the days ahead but will intensify our efforts. We will do all that is within our power to help to make effective the recommendations which are promulgated by this Conference. The true success of our effort, however, will depend not alone upon the trained men leading our fire departments and the intelligent efforts of our public officials in the States and municipalities, but upon the fire consciousness of the general public. To all of them I now appeal. The opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, is yours! What an opportunity! [Applause.]
General Fleming. Thank you very much indeed, Mr. Mallalieu. That was really most inspiring.
It would be surprising if with some 10,000 lives being sacrificed to fire each year in the United States the life insurance companies did not feel that they also had a very considerable interest in fire prevention. I imagine the life insurance people would be quite happy if all of us could just keep on living forever. Unhappily, that does not yet seem to be quite possible, although within