Ladies and gentlemen, the responsibility that rests upon us is nothing short of tremendous. If any one of us leaves this Conference with the idea that financial considerations should transcend the value of human life, this meeting is a matter of complete futility. Such considerations unfortunately constitute the fundamental problem that confronts us today in bringing about the enactment and the enforcement of adequate fire prevention laws. But human life, as I have said, is far more important than is the cost of the protection that we desperately need and which ultimately we must have.
When we leave here to go to our homes, let us carry the conviction that America’s most priceless possession is the humanity that has made us great and that it is the thing that will preserve us from all enemies, foreign and domestic. If this be our conviction we will do all that we can to preserve that humanity together with its worldly possessions.
This convocation to me is a matter of inspiration. It has made me believe that each of us in a very real sense may, if he will, be the keeper of his brother. In the presence of the men who fight fires, standing before persons who from experience know the terror of conflagrations, associating with men and women who succor and give relief to those who suffer and die as a result of fires, I stand very reverently and very humbly. I give to each of them my tribute of respect and gratitude and, may I say, my offer of help.
I know, nevertheless, that whatever happens, whatever may be the results, there is in the background something that is called the law. By chance, I am the chairman of the committee having to do with that phase of the Conference. For days and days, and weeks and weeks, the members of that committee have labored diligently, may I say patriotically, in an endeavor to suggest to States, communities, and municipalities a means and method whereby , by a minimum of expense and imposition, they may serve the interests of our most priceless possession, the