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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 19, 1999


President Clinton and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt met today with 14 members of the Project Impact Fire Services Partnership for Disaster Prevention. This partnership is a component of FEMA's latest initiative, Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities, which is changing the way America deals with disasters -- placing the focus on prevention before disaster strikes.

The fire service community has long been a vital part of the disaster-resistance effort, bearing fire prevention efforts in their local communities for some time. Now, their commitment to disaster-resistance will be cemented -- further reaffirming the shared vision of reducing fire damage in communities across America.

Project Impact is a national initiative designed to challenge the country to undertake actions that protect families, businesses and communities by reducing the effects of natural disasters. At the core of these efforts is the belief that we can come together to create active public-private partnerships that will build disaster-resistant communities. Since its creation in 1997, 118 communities have joined on as Project Impact communities -- committing themselves to this spirit of disaster-resistance.

Every day Americans experience the horror of fire. Each year more than 5,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. As Project Impact furthers this national awareness and outreach initiative within the fire-prevention community, more Americans are learning that fire deaths and damage can be reduced. In order for Project Impact to successfully implement disaster-resistant measures, everyone needs to get involved -- community leaders, fire and emergency service providers and allied professionals. Project Impact recognizes the critical role of local fire services as first responders to natural disasters and that the fire service participation will greatly benefit the disaster-resistance effort.