Many people who survived airline crashes only to die from smoke and fire could have been saved if the government had moved faster on measures to speed evacuations, safety officials say.

"We wait until after we have a major accident in order to justify something that might have kept people alive," Jim Burnett, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, told lawmakers Thursday.The House Government Operations transportation subcommittee also heard testimony by survivors and by the father of a victim of a Los Angeles runway collision in February.

"My son died one row from the exit," said Alex Richman of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. "David could have survived if there had been less smoke and toxic fumes, the exits were more accessible or if he had a smoke hood."

Recommendations by witnesses included installing smoke hoods.