1947 Fire Prevention Conference

This page may contain links to non-U.S. government websites. What this means to you »

July 2002

During preparations for the 20th and 25th Anniversaries of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) in 1994 and 1999 respectively, a major report from more than 50 years ago came to light. Known as the President's Fire Prevention Conference of 1947, it is still amazing in a number of ways. First, that a President of the United States believed that fire was enough of an issue in America to convene the best minds in the country to identify ways to prevent unwanted fires and second from the effort there came an identification of "the 3 Es" relating to fire prevention, the latter really underscoring the report's overall importance.


It wasn't until the USFA staff and National Fire Academy contract instructors began to discuss it in prevention and leadership classes that more than a handful of today's fire service leaders and life safety devotees were aware that such an effort was ever undertaken. Further, that something of the magnitude and importance of the '47 report, which hasn't been a routine part of fire science and fire technology community college teachings, nor otherwise discussed for decades in fire safety circles, remains so unknown, is surprising.

Almost none of this country's current fire prevention and risk reduction managers were at all knowledgeable about the meeting, where some 2,000 of the Nation's leaders in business, industry, government, military, higher education, and the fire service gathered together, at the Federal government's expense, in Washington, DC in May 1947.

Today, if such could be undertaken again, the attendees names would read like a list of Who's Who in America with regard to those who are "shakers and movers" in our society - heads of major institutions, like the Fortune 500 types, leaders from both the public and private sector, etc. For it was in 1947 that then President Truman called for and himself participated in this major conference on the subject of fire prevention.

The '47 Report has not been mentioned in major fire protection writings of the last 40+ years either. Perhaps, each generation has to "reinvent the wheel," so to speak, but all who read it today are amazed by its contents and most who get to see it say they couldn't put it down until finished reviewing it.

THE 3 Es

Among the most important issues within the report is the identification of the 3 Es, a concept originally believed to have been developed and refined during WWII by the U.S. Military. The 3 Es; Engineering, Enforcement, and Education, are still appropriate when dealing with fire safety issues of the new century.

The original participants believed that the report and its aftermath were sure to be the key to solving the fire problem in our society. For the most part, this very significant effort of more than 50 years ago has drawn little long-term action despite the fact that much of it remains true today.

The report came to light as a USFA staff member of the USFA's National Fire Academy was planning for the 20th Anniversary of the Federal Fire Programs, USFA and its NFA in late 1994. Only one original copy of the President's Conference on Fire Prevention is known to exist and it is kept in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) collection at the campus of the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. That original, now in the LRC collection, had been transferred there from the old Federal Fire Council (established back in 1930), when it was disbanded in 1976. In the late 1990's, the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, requested a copy from USFA for their collection as their copy had become lost.

Because of its increasing use and reference, the USFA posted this important report on its website in July 2002. Due to its size, the expense associated with a formal hard copy reprint was deemed too expensive to undertake. Numerous requests for copies by students and others were the reason for uploading it electronically. A few individual and group photos are not included in these materials as posted.


USFA staff gratefully acknowledges the outstanding support of Azarang (Ozzie) Mirkhah, P.E., EFO, Fire Protection Engineer, of Las Vegas, Nevada Fire & Rescue, who made posting of the report possible. Mr. Mirkhah spent many months researching and preparing this material for use by others.

Announcement - a News Release of January 3, 1947 MS Word icon

22 KB
Adobe PDF

58 KB
Conference materials:
Program MS Word icon
635 KB
Adobe PDF
522 KB
Proceedings Part 1 MS Word icon
3.9 MB
Adobe PDF
4.0 MB
Proceedings Part 2 MS Word icon
1.3 MB
Adobe PDF
1.6 MB
Committee Reports:
Report of Committee on Firefighting Services MS Word icon
337 KB
Adobe PDF
469 KB
Report of Committee on Fire-Prevention Education MS Word icon
313 KB
Adobe PDF
424 KB
Report of Committee on Building Construction, Operation, and Protection MS Word icon
324 KB
Adobe PDF
410 KB
Report of Committee on Research MS Word icon
256 KB
Adobe PDF
304 KB
Report of Committee Organized Public Support MS Word icon
245 KB
Adobe PDF
246 KB
Report of the Committee on Laws and Law Enforcement MS Word icon
340 KB
Adobe PDF
459 KB
Other Documentation:
Action Program MS Word icon
250 KB
Adobe PDF
279 KB
A Guide to Community Organization for Fire Safety (issued in December 1947 as part of the formal release of the May '47 printed materials) MS Word icon
95 KB
Adobe PDF
315 KB
Final Report of the Continuing Committee of the President's Conference on Fire Prevention (released in May 1948, detailing what individual States were doing in response to the '47 conference) MS Word icon
135 KB
Adobe PDF
387 KB