Australia — Insurance researcher Brian Ashe concedes his findings might upset some people, but says a rational analysis of the $12 billion in annual spending on fire prevention backs his case, Fairfax reports.
If $4.5 billion of the money spent on fire safety was instead returned to businesses and consumers as tax cuts, health and nutrition would improve, Dr Ashe has written in the Australian National University journal Agenda.
His modelling suggests such a tax cut could save between 90 and 225 lives a year.
About 114 lives are lost each year from fire – 14 of them from bushfires.
“This is a very sensitive matter and really what we’re looking to get is the best out of our investment,” Dr Ashe told Fairfax Media.
“We just have to be careful that we don’t put too many resources into one hazard.”
But NSW Rural Fire Service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said anyone who had lost their home in a bushfire would not agree with the study.
“You can’t discuss fire safety spending as a simple equation,” he told Fairfax.
“It’s not just above saving lives but properties and what’s in them – the things that can’t be replaced.”