Park Service: Agency Is Not Meeting Its Structural Fire Safety Responsibilities: RCED-00-154

May 2000
GAO Reports;5/22/2000, p1
Government Document
The National Park Service's role as caretaker of many of the nation's natural, cultural, and historic treasurers has grown substantially since the agency was created more than 80 years ago. Today, the Park Service is the steward for more than 30,000 structures and more than 80 million artifacts. These structures range from national icons, such as the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall, to motels, cabins, and visitors' centers. In terms of buildings alone, the Park Service is the federal government's third largest landlord. Upwards of 270 million people visit these facilities each year. GAO found that fire safety efforts at national parks are ineffective. The structural fire activities at the six parks GAO visited--Ford's Theater, Olympic National Park, Prince William Forest Park, Shenandoah National Park, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, and Yosemite--lacked many of the basic elements needed for an effective fire safety effort. These gaps included such basics as adequate fire training for employees, adequate fire inspections, and--for many buildings--adequate fire detection or suppression systems. As a result, park visitors, employees, buildings, and artifacts are vulnerable to the threat of fire. These deficiencies occurred primarily because local park managers are not required to meet minimum structural fire safety standards and because structural fire activities have been a low priority within the agency.


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