In some ways, the United States has made some progress. Fires no longer destroy 18,000 buildings as they did in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, or kill half a town of 2,400 people, as they did the same night in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. Other than the Beverly Hill Supper Club fire in Kentucky in 1977, it has been four decades since more than 100 Americans died in a fire.
But even with such successes, the United States still has one of the worst fire death rates in the world. Safety experts say the problem is neither money nor technology, but the indifference(无所谓) of a country that just will not take fires seriously enough.
American fire departments are some of the world's fastest and best-equipped. They have to be. The United States has twice Japan's population, and 40 times as many fires. It spends far less on preventing fires than on fighting them. And American fire -safety lessons are aimed almost entirely at children, who die in large numbers in fires but who, against popular beliefs, start very few of them.
Experts say the error is an opinion that fires are not really anyone's fault. That is not so in other countries, where both public education and the law treat fires as either a personal failing or a crime(罪行). Japan has many wood houses; of the 48 fires in world history that burned more than 10,000 buildings, Japan has had 27. Punishment for causing a big fire can be as severe as life imprisonment.
In the United States, most education dollars are spent in elementary schools. But, the lessons are aimed at too limited a number of people; just 9 percent of all fire deaths are caused by children playing with matches.
The United States continues to depend more on technology th