November 2005

Spotlight On…   Firefighting

Fires and firefighting have been in the public attention more than ever in recent months. From the blazing towers of September 11th to the sweeping destruction by forest fires in the western states, fire has been a terrifying agent of change in our country.


Fire and the World Trade Center

According to engineering experts, the destruction of the World Trade Center was due largely to heat generated by fire. The House Committee on Science recently released the World Trade Center Performance Study with details on the effect of this fire. The ensuing tragedy, of course, brought another: the loss of lives of firefighters sent to battle the blaze, primarily from the New York City Fire Department.

Wyoming wilfire photo by Kari Brown


Drought and wildfires have been worse this year since any time since the 1930s. Over 80% of all wildfire are caused by humans. Through the National Park Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, legislation, and regulations, the federal government monitors and sustains firefighting efforts. The National Interagency Fire Center offers a daily update on major wildfire news and maps with summaries of affected states.

Early Mt. Auburn fire company

Firefighting in Cincinnati

Did you know that Cincinnati was the first U.S. city to employ professional firefighters? The Cincinnati Fire Department History page offers photos of early fire department buildings and equipment, with rosters of fire companies and those who have died in the line of duty. The Cincinnati Fire Museum also tells the history of firefighting in the Queen City through photos and exhibits. Perhaps the most famous local fire was the 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club tragedy in which 165 people died, reported in great detail by both The Enquirer and the Post. For more current information, including statistics on fires by neighborhood and by cause, visit the official website of the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Smokey Bear

Fire Safety

The government goal, of course, is to prevent fires that threaten our land, property, and lives. The National Fire Protection Agency posts fire codes and safety suggestions. It is also the home of Sparky the Fire Dog and his page of activities for kids. Campers have long heard the advice of Smokey Bear on preventing forest fires, but may not be aware not his name is protected by the U.S. Code or of the true story behind the bear.

More about Fire at Your Library

Fires, Firefighting, and More is a list of books, cassettes, and videos about fires and the people who fight them, compiled by library staff. Check your local library for available titles.

Several government agencies publish reports for fire officials and the public on how fires begin and spread and the best means for controlling them. The Library collection includes:

P.D. A 13.2:L 76/2
Living with Fire
A pamphlet directed toward persons living in forest fire areas, with suggestions on dealing with fire and a checklist of fire safety.

P.D. A 13.2:F 51/77/2000
Fire and the Changing Land
A pamphlet that looks at forest fires, and their effect on their environment.

P.D. I 29.2:Y 3/16
Yellowstone in the Afterglow: Lessons from the Fires
A discussion of the 1988 fire in Yellowstone, and its effects, from the year 2000.

P.D. FEM 1.102:D 34
Fire Death Rate Trends
A brief look at international fire death rates and how the U.S. compares with other countries.

P.D. FEM 1.116:999
Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 1999
Statistics on fatalities, and biographical summaries of individual incidents.

P.D. FEM 1.108:ED 8/2001
Public Fire Education Planning:A Five Step Process
Local fire planning for communities with sample plans and procedures.

P.D. FEM 1.102:V 88/2
Report on the 2000 National Volunteer Fire Summit
An overview of the summit with summaries of goals and issues.

P.D. J 1.14/2:F 76/10
Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Forensic Aspects of Arson Investigations
Transcripts of lectures given on this compelling topic.

P.D. FEM 1.108:J 98/2
Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Handbook
Suggestions for identifying, evaluating and confronting youths involved in arson.

Additional library materials can be located in the Library Catalog using these subject headings: