Fires Cost More Than the War in Iraq?


WEST HAVEN–This week is Fire Prevention Week, a national campaign sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association(NFPA). The primary goal of Fire Prevention Week is to bring national awareness to the deadly effects of fire in an effort to educate people in saving their own life as well as others.

While this is a noble cause, this year’s fire prevention week brings up a very significant new view on how devastating fires can actually be. The majority of Americans are following the ongoing presidential election and as both John McCain and Barrack Obama remind us, the United States is fighting a war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the ongoing campaign ads and media attention have brought to light that the American people are spending $10 billion a month fighting the war in Iraq.

In February of 2008 the NFPA released a report titled “The Total Cost of Fire in The United States” which estimated the total annual cost of fires in America is $267-294 billion, or roughly 2 to 2.5% of the US gross domestic product (GDP). If you break that down, Americans spend roughly $24.5 billion a month due to fires.

Yup, you figured it out, that’s more than double the amount of money we are spending fighting the war in Iraq. Maybe the media and the presidential candidates should spend some time debating about how one of the most sophisticated and richest countries in the world has one of the largest and most expensive fire problems. With the economy sinking in a hole and a $700 billion bailout plan just passed, someone should tell congress we can pay back that money in just four years if we addressed our fire problem.

This year’s theme for fire prevention week is “Prevent Home Fires.” While the theme is aimed at preventing people from dying in their own homes, where we kill the most Americans, maybe we should think about the simple steps you can take to stop the fire altogether. If we prevent the fire from starting, we can stop killing people and we can save a ton on money. So use your candles carefully, and NEVER leave your cooking unattended! Let’s think about all the money we can save!