A THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED FIRE DEPARTMENT.
CHARLESTON, S. C., claims that no city in the South can boast of a better equipped fire department than it possesses. That it has good grounds for its boast is undeniably true, and this is due to its being so well directed by a thoroughly competent head, and composed of men who are not only ever ready to answer to the call of duty, but arc also unterrified by any difficulties or dangers which they may come across in the way of extinguishing fires or saying life. The department, however, is not content with what it has achieved, or the high reputation which it already enjoys. It is constantly stretching out towards absolute perfection under the masterly guidance of Chief MarjenhofT.
The head of the Charleston fire department was bom in Bremen Germany, in 1845. He learned the trade of a baker in Augusta, Georgia. At the age of sixteen he joined the Confederate army in the German artillery, company B, of Charleston. Serving until the war was closed, he then turned himself to the task of b ginning life anew, being penniless, as befell so many others at that time. He started to work with a sturdy German will, and succeeded in building up a flourishing wholesale and retail bakery, confectionary and general manufacturer’s agency business, which is now prospering under the charge of his son.
He joined the volunteer fire department in May, 1865, and heldjall of the different offices in the German fire company, ex ept that of president, which he declined to accept On the organiz itlon of the paid fire department he applied for and was^eiected foreman of engine company No. t, his old engine, and resigned in February, 1883, to devote his entire time to his increasing business interests. His interest in watching the affairs of the department never flagged, however, and he kept himself thoroughly posted on fire department matters through periodicals and j >uruals published for that purpose. In January, 1894 having his business in good shape to intrust to hi« son, and with tiusty loren.cn in the different departments of his house who bad been with him from five to ten years,he again offered his services to the city, and was intrusted with the office of chief. During his career the average losses resulting from fires have been reduced from $89,000 to $39,0.0 —a record of which any commanding officer might be proud. He has introduced several reforms and changes tending to those reductions. His superiors have honored him with their confidence, and the officers and members of the department are vying wiih each other to assist him in upholding the standard and reputation of the department as being the best n the South.
Louis Behrens, the assistant chief, is a worthy condjutor of Chief Marjenhoff. He was practically brought up a fireman and knows every detail of the business. He was born in the city in July, i860, and on leaving school became a carpenter and cabinet maker. He entered the fire department iu tS/6 as a volunteer fireman and for two years ran with the Charleston hook and ladder company No. 2, and in the latter year became first axeman of the German fire company,with which he remained two years, On its organization he became a member of the paid department and on March t, 1885,Mr. Behrens was elected to the foremanship of engine No. 1, which post he held until January 3, 1898. when he was elected assistant chief of the department. He has a record of somewhat over 22 years’ experience at fire fighting and has many a time demonstrated his ability to control the operations of the entire department. Mr. Behrens is a member of Stonewall lodge, No. 6, Knights of Pythias, president of the Charleston Fire Department Aid association, and is a member of the German artillery and the old German fie company benevolent associations.
His record speaks for itself Duty has ever been his watchword, and upon that plane the success he has attained is as gratifying to his many friends as it is to himself. He has demonstrated his ability to the satisfaction of every one.
And as are the chief and his assistants, so are the captains and other officers. It is not to be wondered at, therefore.that the men are of a similar calibre. Hence the much lauded praise of the department is well founded, and, did space permit, many deeds of bravery performed by all might be recounted.
Charleston’s fire department is unde: the control of seven fire masters. The present board consists of: F. S. Rodgers, chairman, appointed 1881; Hon. J. Adger Smyth, the mayor; C. R. Valk, 1881; A. Stemmermann, 1881; A. J. Riley, 1896; R. M. Masters, 1898; W. K. Steadman, 1898 The force con sists of ninety-nine officers and men, forty-six of whom are paid for full time and fifty-three are paid part time, men at call assigned to the different statists as follows: One chief, one assistant chief, chief’s driver, supply wagon driver, batteryman, paid full time. Superintendent of horses, paid part time. Steamer No. X.—Second-class Silsby, 900-gallon capacity per minute, with 1,000 feet of hose and two threegallon Babcock extinguishers, has the following crew. Full paid—engineer, assistant engineer, one horseman, two drivers, and one helper; men at call—foreman and five hosemen. Steamer No. 2. —Second-class
double Amoskeag, of 6oo-gallon capacity; hose wagon, carrying 1,000 feet hose and three-gallon Babcock extinguishers The crew is as follows: Full paid—engineer, assistant engineer, one hosetnan, two drivers, and one helper; men at call—foreman and five hosemen. Steamer No. 2.—Second* class double Amoskeag steamer of 600-gallon capacity; hose carriage carrying 1,000 feet of hose and one three-gallon Babcock extinguisher. The crew is as follows: Full paid—engineer, assistant engineer, two drivers.and one helper; men at call—foreman and six hosemen. Combination company No. 3. — Double tank, eighty-gallon Champion-Babcock chemical engine.carrying two three-gallon Babcock extinguishers, one twenly-five-foot laddet, one twelve foot trussed roof-ladder, and Detroit door opener; one third-size single pump, Clapp & Jones steamer, with La France boiler, capacity 350 gallons per minute; one hose carriage, carrying 1,000feet hose; one Hayes truck, with sixty-five-foot aerial extension ladder and full complement of ladders, etc., also Siamese coupling and hose attached with two-inch pipe to use as a water tower. The crew is as follows: Full paid—foreman and engineer, three tillermen and operators,and two drivers; men at call—four hose and laddermen.
Steamer No, 4—Third-class Silsby steamer, 700 gallons: hose carriage, carrying r,ooo feet hose. The crew is as follows: Full paid—engineer, assistant engineer, two drivers and one helper; men at call—foreman and six hosemen;
Steamer No. 5—Second-size double-pump Clapp & Jones steamer, capacity 600 gallons; hose wagon; carrying 1,000 feet hose and two three-gallon Babcock extinguishers. The crew is as follows: Full paid—engineer, assistant engineer, two drivers and one helper; men at call: Foreman and six hosemen.
Steamer No. 7.—Second-size Silsby steamer, capacity 900 gallons, hose wagon, carrying i;ooo feet hose and two threegallon Babcock extinguishers. The crew is as follows: Full paid—engineer, assistant engineer, two drivers,and one helper; men at call—foreman and six hosemen.
Truck No. 1—One straight-frame Reading truck, carrying sixty-foot trussed extension ladder, forty-hve-foot ground extension ladder, eic.,also two six-gallon Holloway extinguishers. The crew is as follows: Full paid—tillerman,assistant tillerman and two driversjtnen at call-foreman and six laddermen Chief’s buggy—carrying one six-gallon Holloway and one three-gallon Babcock extinguisher, one axe. Reserve apparatus—One first-size, double-pump, Amoskeag steamer, capacity 700 gallons; one second-size, double-pump. Amoskeag steamer, capacity 600 gallons; one third-size Amoskeag, single-pump steamer, capacity 350 gallons; three hose carriages, carrying 800 feet hose each; one extra supply wagon and two carts. Twenty-nine horses are usod in the service. All the apparatus is kept in the best of order for immediate use. All the steamers are regularly tested once and twice a month by draughting from wells. Hose is tested once a year by hydraulic pump, thereby assuring the non-bursting of hose at fires. One thousand feet of new hose is kept on hand fo emergencie-. The apparatus is supplied with relief valves, shut-off nozzles, smoke protectors, and all modern appliances for the extingu shing of fires. All night, at least two call men are required to be on duty at each station, who, with the other men, perform the night watches. There are never less that six men on duty at night at each station, thus making the department as prompt and efficient as full paid departments.
During the lsst several years the average loss has been kep below $39,000 per annum. The annual running expenses amount to abont $48,000. The Gamewell fire alarm telegraph system is kept up-to-date ir, every particular, and has thirtyeight miles of line wire, divided in six circuits. A six circuit repeater, 103 signal boxes, three large bell strikers, sixteen gongs, and two indicator-, are attached to the lines. For the last eight years there has been no failure in giving alarms for fires, and it has been kept with such care and perfection that over ninety-nine pet cent of the fire aiarms were given entirely correct during that time.