2224 Register at Annual FDIC Pilgrimage
29th “Clockwork Conference” strikes new high note as Vernor-Klinck? team stages super-session
THE TWENTY-NINTH Fire Department Instructors Conference — and the twenty-third to be held in Memphis— on February 19-22, registered a total of 2,224, a new high in attendance of fire department executives and instructors, fire and plant protection engineers, educators, public officials and fire insurance industry representatives, from 45 states, U. S. possessions and Canada.
The Conference, sponsored jointly by the Western Actuarial Bureau and the Memphis Fire Department, also broke all records for attendance at the four-day sessions, which lasted from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily, with selected speakers “carrying the word” even during lunchtime.
Following precedent, Richard E. Vernor snapped on the green light promptly at 9:23 a.m., Tuesday the 19th (the warning light went on at 9:00) and the “clockwork conference” was on. Chairman Vernor said, “This is no convention. It is a private party at which you are all welcome guests. Its only objective is to help all of us do a better job by the exchange of ideas. You will hear from experts from 29 states in this busy crowded four-day session; aside from them, another 100 handle the complicated machinery of the Conference, most of these, members of the superb Memphis Fire Department.” ,
On hand to extend the city’s greetings were Vice-Mayor and Fire and Police Commissioner Claude A. Armour; Fire Chief John C. Klinck; Chamber of Commerce President R. A. Trippeer and O. L. Ledbetter, president, Memphis and Shelby County Council of Civic Clubs.
In a brief memorial service, the Conference stood in silent tribute to the memory of two departed FDIC stalwarts, Harry K. Rogers and Colonel Harold R. Brayton.
The opening speaker, Chief Roi B. Woolley, editor, FIRE ENGINEERING, whose topic bore the cryptic caption “Your Take Home Pay,” said, “There is probably nothing that has such profound influence upon the nation’s fire service and, in turn, upon safeguarding the nation from destructive, deadly fire, as this gathering. . . . Keeping abreast of increasing fire hazards in this chemical, electronic and atomic era isn’t an easy way to earn money.” He warned that fire losses are increasing “in spite of our very real advances in training techniques and fire fighting facilities. Unfortunately there are a lot of well-meaning souls, often in high places, who abhor fire, but aren’t willing to do anything about it.” He urged those in attendance to profit by the Conference, take its lessons home with them not only to increase their take home pay but to insure more for their people.
Inequities in the rating of extinguishers were discussed by Jack A. Bono, Underwriters’ Laboratories, after which followed the first of eight panels which proved high points of the Conference. This was led by Robert Byrus, University of Maryland. The subject was “Getting the Most from Post-Mortems.” Chief Earl Levy, Tallahassee, Fla., outlined postmortem procedures. Chief Fire Marshal Albert H. Peterson, Chicago Fire Department, explained how they might uncover structural defects and code violations. Chief O. E. Hirst, Galena, Ill., Fire Department, emphasized that post-mortems offer the best training methods available.
At the luncheon, Norton T. Ames, president, Wisconsin Council of Firemen’s Associations, Oregon, Wis., entertained the vast luncheon crowd on the subject “Bill the Volunteer.” He was introduced by William D. Buck, secretarytreasurer of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
A panel with Harry H. Wolff, field officer, Western Actuarial Bureau as leader, came next, in which “Training Patterns” were analyzed and reviewed by W. H. Barnett, superintendent, Florida State Fire College; Warren Y. Kimball, manager, Field Services Department, National Fire Protection Association and editor of “Fireman,” and Keith Royer, supervisor, Firemanship Training, Iowa State College. Panel members detailed the encouraging growth of nationwide firemen’s training programs.
Fire Chief Earl R. McDaniel, Lexington, Ky., “charted” the characteristics of a good fire department administrator; following him new evolutions and demonstrations and fire control facilities were directed by Joseph 1. Fetters. These included showing of an electronic resuscitator in operation; Nashville’s emergency unit; precautions in extinguishing fires in the new “scenic cruiser” buses by Chief Frank Lieser, College Park, Md.; operation of the Memphis Fire Department’s hydraulic water tower; the latest remote control ladder pipe; and a “road-e-o” contest for drivers of fire, department vehicles.
Panels are popular
The second day opened with a Question Box Panel, MC’d by Francis A. Hartman, supervisor, Firemanship Training, University of Michigan, and participated in by Richard Chamberlain, field engineer. New York Fire Insurance Rating Organization; Dan C. Hicks, fire marshal, Nashville, Tenn.; Chief Earl Hood, Spearfish, S. D., Fire Department; IT M. Hutchinson, training officer, Waco, Tex., Fire Department; Chief W. F. Merkel, Yorkville Works, Wheeling Steel Corporation, Yorkville, Ohio; and Sherman A. Pickard, deputy state fire marshal, Raleigh, N. C. Questions raised concerned private fire brigades, handling acetylene tank fires, spacing of fire hydrants, fusible links on doors, nozzle flows, etc.
Gerald L. Maatman, assistant chief engineer, Illinois Inspection Bureau, gave a five-minute review of the preceding day’s doings, after which a dramatized playlet on “Arson” by members of the Minneapolis Fire Department, under Chief R. C. Malmquist, provided much amusement.
Harold E. Kuhlman, chief engineer, Oklahoma Inspection Bureau, asked the help of American scientists through the National Research Council in finding better ways to prevent and extinguish fires. Research, also, was the theme of a talk by Calvin H. Yuill, director, Fire Technology, Southwest Research Institute.
Deputy Fire Chief Louis E. Vogt, Division of Apparatus, Rochester Fire Department, using slides, explained the “Heavy Stream Appliance Tests” described in FIRE ENGINEERING of September 1956. He was followed by Frank L. Brannigan, safety engineer, Atomic Energy Commission, who took the lid off “Atomic Energy Radiation Problems” in an inimitable discourse.
The day’s luncheon speaker was Loren S. Bush, chief engineer, Board of Fire Underwriters of the Pacific, whose dramatic description of the “Disaster at Malibu was enthusiastically received. Mr. Bush showed colored pictures of the fire the next day. He was introduced by Chief Wayne Swanson, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
“Lessons from Large Loss Fires” was the subject of a talk by Chester I. Babcock, Department of Fire Records, NFPA. Following a briefing by Emmett T. Cox, vice-chairman of the Conference and Joe Fetters, the registrants were moved bodily by bus to an afternoon demonstration of advanced fire fighting methods. Four individual fires were lit off in an abandoned house, each being controlled by different means. The smoky demonstration brought the vast audience to cheers—and tears.
Quiz programs well attended
Wednesday evening was given over to showing the latest movies. Thursday’s sessions led off with another quiz panel led by Norman H. Davis Jr., executive engineer, Underwriters’ Laboratories, and participated in by Chiefs Edward J. Blohm, Detroit, Mich., and L. F. Paterson, Tucson, Ariz..; Charles H. Howe Jr., fire marshal, Montgomery County, Md.; R. M. Rice, manager plant protection, Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co., Milwaukee, Wis., and Lieutenant Mack Thompson, Fire Marshal Section, Arkansas State Police. Subjects covered fire marshal laws; ventilating occupancies; fighting Class “D” fires (explosivetype metals); pressurized container hazards; hose requirements, etc.
A five-minute summary by Robert K. Newton, supervisor, Firemanship Training, University of Illinois, of the previous day’s activities was followed by a paper on Health and Fire Hazards of Some Insecticides” by H. E. Whitmire, president, Whitmire Research Laboratories.
In a “Significant Short,” Lieutenant William Seitz, Columbus, Ohio, Fire Department, urged 24-hour fire prevention. Hie broad subject of automatic sprinklers and their accomplishments over a three-year period was then discussed by Raymond J. Casey, National Automatic Sprinkler and Fire Control Association.
In another panel session, it was brought out that the rural public desires fire protection service more than any other public good. Abe Gent, Illinois Inspection Bureau, led this group, whose topic was “Rural Fire Problems.” Aiding him were Harry J. Corcoran, Iowa Inspection Bureau, Chief Lynn C. Ray, North Park Fire Department, Rockford, III., and L. E. Shingledeckcr, supervisor fire safety, Nationwide Insurance Co.
The day’s luncheon orator was Mayor Ben West of Nashville, Tenn., who was introduced by John F. Lee, manager, Tennessee Inspection Bureau. During the luncheon ceremonies, FDIC staff member, Lew Holland of Dallas, Tex., was awarded an FDIC Certificate of Merit for professional “frog calling.” In more serious vein, Hugh Walker, manager, MFA Sales Engineering, American La l’rance Corp., and Harry J. Corcoran of the Iowa Inspection Bureau were named honorary members of the Memphis Fire Department.
Home inspections urged
Chief Joseph Giammatteo, Glen Echo, Md., Fire Department, read a paper on “Area Radio Networks” in which he traced the progress of fire service radio since 1935. Then came another spirited panel, moderated by Chief Lester Schick of the Davenport, Iowa, Fire Department, aided and abetted by Wayne C. Jenkins, chief, Fire Prevention Bureau, Division of State Fire Marshal, Columbus, Ohio; Chief Daniel McDermott, Epworth, Iowa; Chief Rod Porter, Winnetka, Ill., and Battalion Chief Joseph F. Meskill of the Philadelphia Fire Department. This group explored the field for home fire inspections with emphasis on dwelling inspections. The success of a number of Ohio cities and counties in reducing fire calls was directly the result of their home inspection systems, Wayne Jenkins pointed out. In Ohio Townships, he said, there were 425 fewer fires in 1956 as compared with 1955 “with $1,401,130 less fire losses.”
Injuries to fire fighters from falling walls can be avoided if the signs and characteristics of such imminent structural failures are understood and heeded, according to Charles L. Roblee, fire training instructor, Purdue University.
The day’s activities closed with a stirring address by Robert F. Hamm, director, Public Relations and Fire Department Training, Indiana Rating Bureau, in which he traced the evolution and progress of FDIC.
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The final day saw working sessions continued right up to mid-afternoon when all hands enjoyed the annual 1957 FDIC Follies,” an all-star, one-hour stage show graced by the most attractive of Memphis’ younger set. It was preceded by an opening Quiz Panel in which the Exploratory Committee on Water Fog undertook to answer questions on fog applications. The leader was Emmett Cox who was assisted by O. G. Carpenter; William H. Dahlgren, Tennessee Inspection Bureau; Joseph I. Fetters, University of Missouri; Everett Hudiberg, Oklahoma A & M; Roy Simmons, Dallas Fire Department; Chief Lloyd M. Steele, Greenbrier Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, Va., and Captain Joseph Dieckman, Chicago Fire Department.
John N. Cardoulis, fire protection engineer, Northeast Air Command, USAF, outlined the enviable record in fire protection and prevention made by his Labrador Air Force Base. He was followed by Harold J. Burke, former chief of the New York Fire Department and now vice-president of Pyrotechnics, Inc., Newark, N. J., who described and demonstrated the latest type radioactive fire detection and alarm device, operating on an entirely new principle which does not require the presence of heat, smoke or flame to actuate it.
Chief John Klinck presented an illustrated description of the operation of his department on a huge corncob fire (see this issue of FIRE ENGINEERING) after which a five-man panel reviewed “Scouting in Action,” with emphasis on fire department cooperation. George K. Myers, civic relationship director, Boy Scouts of America, led the group, aided by Don Haight, Minneapolis Fire Department; Chief D. A. Meek Jr., West Point, Miss., Fire Department; Dale Auck, Federation of Mutual Fire Insurance Companies and Chief G. R. McAlpine, Oklahoma City.
The closing lunch saw the numerous committees of the Memphis Fire Department honored by acclamation and an address by R. J. Douglas, Oklahoma A & M on the technique of “Chalk Talks.”
As for many years, the closing item was the “Annual FDIC Broadcast.” This year it was aptly and spiritedly done by “Hank” Ritgerod, one of the faithful of Dick Vemor’s staff, in charge of public relations.
Concluding, Dick Vemor said, “It has cost somebody well over $250,000 to send you all here. That is quite an investment. Whether or not it pays dividends is what you have to individually answer.”
The invitation of Chief Klinck to hold the Thirtieth Anniversary Conference in Memphis on February 18-21, 1958, was received with acclaim.
Photographs used in connection with this story were taken by Memphis Fire Department photographers, Davis and Evans.