Where does the Army come in in this scheme for fire prevention and fire protection in peace and war?
No doubt you are generally familiar with our deep interest in all phases of fire prevention and realize our accomplishments as a result of the “Army safety program” headed by a qualified safety engineer now elevated to the staff of the Director of Personnel and Administration. The organization extends through each Army and each post and installation and, with your help, has been most effective in developing sound procedures. Also the Chief of Engineers carries the War Department responsibility for procurement of firefighting equipment and for the doctrine and training of Army firefighting units. Our contacts with the great civilian organizations in this field are close and continuous and, I’m sure, mutually helpful in both training and operation.
Outside of the humanitarian considerations in the Government’s concern for the lives of its people, the War Department, with its responsibility for the mobilization of our vast industrial power, in cooperation with the Navy, is deeply concerned with any interruption in wartime industrial production and we recognize that “public enemy number one” in this respect may well be fire.
The War Department recognizes also its responsibility to respond in peace and war to appeals for help in situations beyond the civil authorities’ ability to control and has under study now the procedures and training and equipment required to insure the prompt response in an emergency of the most readily available forces – Regular Army, National Guard, and Organized Reserves – to meet the additional demands for support of local civil organizations in the event of devastating hostile action by sabotage, bombs, incendiaries, or other weapons which may be used against us.
With this in mind I must say in conclusion that your Convention here in Washington is making not only a great contribution to community welfare and to conservation of our resources but in addition, in each forward step, is strengthening our national security.
Your action now in improving our peacetime fire prevention and firefighting capabilities is truly a great contribution to national defense, and speaking as a member of the Army, another fighting organization, I wish to pay tribute to and salute the courage and heroism and the public service of America’s firefighters. [Applause.]
Chairman Fleming. Thanks you, General Bull, for a very thought-inspiring presentation.
Our pioneer ancestors thought of our virgin forest lands as an inexhaustible and therefore expendable resource and slashed and burned recklessly. We now know that our forest resources are neither inexhaustible nor expendable, and for a good many years increasing efforts have been made to conserve our remaining resources.
That fire prevention pays big dividends is indicated by the Government’s forest-management policies. In 1945, which I am told was a fairly typical year, forest fire losses totaled nearly $26,000,000. But here is an interesting thing. Some form of organized fire protection is provided for some 156,000,000 acres of forest lands, while 127,000,000 acres in State-owned or private tracts lack organized fire protection. The losses on the protected tracts were slightly over