A QUESTION OF HOSE

A QUESTION OF HOSE

Philadelphia has recently been considerably excited over the question of hose for the Fire Department. The Commissioners advertised for 5,000 feet of now hose, und bids were received from several manufacturers. The lowest bid was 79 cents per foot for rubber hose, and the company offering to supply it at that price claimed the award. But the Commissioners, after due deliberation, awarded the contract to the manufacturers of an entirely different kind of hose at $1.15 per foot, making an excess of $900 over the bid of the rubber hose company. This latter protested against the award, appealing to the City Council for redress. That body referred the matter to its Committee on Finance, with instructions to investigate the matter thoroughly. Meantime the newspapers took sides in the controversy, contributing several profound editorials to the current literature of the day on the subject of Fire hose. At last accounts tho matter was very much muddled, und likely to lead to litigation, whichever way it was decided.

There is nothing more essoutial to the successful working of a Fire Department than good, substantial hose. Without it, engines and Firemen aro useless, water works aro of no avail, and all the money expended upon these is rendered a worthless investment. Cheap hose is dear even if given away, for it is utmost certain to burst at a critical moment, when overy resource of the Fire Department is taxed to its utmost. Committees charged with the responsible duty of purchasing hose should insist upon subjecting overy sample offered to the severest test, and then, having doeided which is the must servicable, buy that and no other, oven if it does cost a trifle more than some other kind. The practice, so commonly followed, of awarding a contract for hose to tho lowest bidder is pretty sure to develop into some kind of a swindle before the eud is reached.

A Question of Hose.

A Question of Hose.

The JOURNAL has, very naturally, had much to say on the question of hose. It is the all-important requisite of an efficient Fire Department. Fires may be extinguished without Engines, without Hook and Ladder Companies, but seldom without water, and, consequently, without good hose. With a good system of water works, giving a good pressure at the hydrants, Hand or Steam Engines may be dispensed with, but the water works are valueless for fire purposes without good hose to lead the stream to the fire. Engines are of no avail, unless liberally supplied with hose. It is of the first importance, therefore, that every city and village in the land should be well supplied with hose, and that the hose should be of the best quality. We feel that no opportunity should be lost for impressing upon those in authority how essential to the proper working of a Fire Department is this question of hose. We have recently had our attention called to several instances where cheap and imperfect hose has placed in jeopardy large areas of property, and led to charges of inefficiency being brought against the Firemen. This is a gross injustice to them, and they should earnestly and vigorously protest against a policy of miscalled economy that palms off upon them worthless hose because it is cheap, and thus subjects them to unfavorable criticism.

It is a mistaken idea on the part of Fire Commissioners or Fire Committees, charged with the purchase of Fire Department supplies, to think that they are obliged by law to purchase a worthfess article simply because it is offered by “the lowest bidder.” If they were charged with the erection of a court house, for instance, they would not advertise “ proposals for building a court house,” and then accept the offer of the “ lowest bidder ” regardless of the character of the structure he proposed to erect. On the contrary, they would first decide what kind of a building they would have, would obtain plans and specifications, and then would invite proposals for erecting the structure in accordance with those plans. They have the power to do precisely the same thing regardingthe purchase of hose, or any other article required by a Fire Department, be it a Steam Engine or a length of suction. They have the right, even under the law which requires them to purchase of the lowest bidder, to decide upon the kind of hose they want, and to ask proposals for furnishing that particular kind, and no other. They may even select a sample as the standard, and require bidders to rival that sample. They can lay down their specifications as completely for the kind of hose they want as they would for the building of a court house, and refuse to entertain a proposition for anything else. A Department, therefore, that has thoroughly tested a certain kind of hose and found it satisfactory, should not be bulldozed ” into buying something they know nothing about, simply because it is offered to them at a lower price. Chief Engineers and their Assistants should insist upon having a voice in the purchase of all articles that go to increase or impair the efficiency of their Departments. Usually a Committee of the City Council makes these purchases, and it is a rare thing that any member of such Committee has the requisite practical knowledge to enable him to make such purchase intelligently. The men who are responsible for the work of the Fire Departments, and whose reputations, and often their lives, are at stake, are the ones who should buy the apparatus and equipments of their Departments. Being practical men, they would do it intelligently, economically and satisfactorily, and we should hear far less complaint of cheap hose bursting at fires and of apparatus that is imperfectly equipped.