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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: April 2, 2004
No: 04-12

Fire administrator visits installation

NATICK, Mass. -- The head of the U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), became better acquainted with the installation during a long-awaited visit here March 19.

U.S. Fire Administrator R. David Paulison said he made the decision to visit the Soldier Systems Center after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Since the mid-1990s, he's been concerned about the technology available to the fire service. Last year, 111 firefighters died, and every year about 4,000 civilians die because of fire.

"How can we transfer military technology and information from the military to fire service?" Paulison said.

He said attending memorial services is an emotional experience for him, and he's determined to find ways to stop the loss of lives.

Some of the problems firefighters face, according to Paulison, are the inability to locate firefighters inside a burning building, uniforms that protect well but still retain too much heat, breathing apparatus that could use improvement and incompatible radios. He said firefighters at the World Trade Center were passing notes because they couldn't speak to each other through their radios.

"So these are the reasons why I'm here," he said. "I'm told some of the capabilities are there, and I want a better handle of the processes and how you come out with a product at the end." With millions of dollars in the FEMA budget, he said he wants to make sure those dollars are focused in the right place.

Scheduled briefings consisted of an overview of the installation and Natick Soldier Center, Future Force Warrior, Individual Protection, the National Protection Center and Combat Feeding. USARIEM discussed predictive modeling for operator endurance and the NCTRF reviewed the Department of Defense fire program. Paulison was also scheduled to tour several facilities.

"The issue of (science and technology) money being driven by ivory tower scientists is no longer true," said Philip Brandler, director of the Natick Soldier Center. "It's now driven by the user community."

Firefighters hope to be another community that can benefit from military products and knowledge, even if some of what they want is decades away from becoming a reality.

In his job, Paulison also supports state and local fire service programs as well as implementing FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh's initiatives for emergency readiness, firefighter training and equipment.

The mission of the U.S. Fire Administration is to reduce loss of life and economic setbacks due to fire and related emergencies through public education, training, technology and data research initiatives in coordination with other federal agencies and in partnership with fire protection and emergency service communities.

For more information about the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center, please visit our website at

This page last updated on 23 January 2004.