AUGUST 25, 1943
Hyde Park, Tuesday—I received a notice the other day from the National Fire Protection Association, telling me that Fire Prevention Week will be observed from October 3rd to the 9th. They sent me a number of booklets which show the various causes which bring about home fires.
I am very familiar with most of these causes and I realize how hard it is to remember all the precautions which should be taken. Just lately, I was in a house where, in the middle of the night, a gentleman was found to have fallen asleep while smoking. By the time it was discovered he had burned a large hole in his mattress. Many times things nearly happen and they serve to make us more careful, but we really are not as grateful as we should be for the tragedies averted.
Important as I think the prevention of fires in the home may be, I think the prevention of forest fires is of even greater importance. These fires may burn many homes, but even if they do not take human lives and property, the mere burning over a wooded area is a great material loss to more than one generation.
We, in this country, must be very careless, for as you fly over many miles in the United States, you can see below you, over and over again, great patches on mountains and hills of charred stumps. This often means that before the hillside is re-seeded the rains have washed the soil away. The mountain is bare and there are floods in the valley below. Good soil is washed down into the sea and the people have lost a part of their inheritance.
Many lumbering companies do a wonderful job of cleaning up any area they cut and replanting seedlings, so that the land may continue to be an asset for future generations. Other companies, however, are interested only in getting out the lumber which will bring them an immediate income. These people are the ones who despoil our country just as surely as any foreign enemy.
The CCC boys did a great deal for the areas in which they worked on soil conservation and forest preservation, but these boys are now in the armed forces, or at work in our rapidly expanding industrial setup. In some parts of the country, I understand, that the women have been enlisted to watch forest fires in the wooded areas and to send in the alarm.
I am sure that they also go out and fight whenever a fire gets started. While this is good, it is not as important as training all workers in great lumber industries so see and recognize the importance of conservation through the prevention of forest fires. If they look upon their work not just as a job to cut down trees, but as a job which preserves the forests for the future as well as for the present, we shall make strides in the care of our forests.