POLITICS in the fire departments of the United States is entering on a very virulent stage. As has already been told in these columns, at Savannah, Ga., Fire Chief Puder has been dismissed to make way for a politicians’ man, and at Oakland, Cal,, the new chief, who is not even a fireman, appointed simply because he was of the same political stripe as the powers that be has superseded an able chief and successful fire-fighter. At Baltimore, more than a suspicion of politics seems to attach to the resignation of former Fire Chief I.edden and at least one more officer of the department—and though District Chief McAfee, former Chief I.edden s successor, is an able officer of undoubted skill and approved personal bravery (his heroism at the recent Armiger fire showed that), and although he well deserves his promotion, yet, if that promotion is due, as is more than hinted, to the supersession of his predecessor for political reasons, such promotion must be protested against as a violation of the basic principle on which alone every fire department should be run, that of promotion by seniority accompanied by merit and fitness. Prom Pawtucket, R. L, comes the news that Chief Brierly has not been re-elected as head of the fire department—a case of another good man sacrificed to the same vicious principle of political interference with the organization and administration of such departments. Chief Brierly has long been known as one of the most prominent and most intelligent of the fire-lighters in New England. His successor is John V. Wilmarth. At Salt Lake City, Utah, likewise, the political mayor is doing his best to oust Chief Devine from his position and has formulated (but only under compulsion) a scries of charges of neglect of duty, lobbying, and virtual incompetency against one of the best chiefs in the United States ! One of the most flagrant cases of a politician’s intermeddling with the fire de. partment is that at Portland, Ore. On this subject a correspondent writes under date of February 25, as follows:
“The political pot is seething here. Mayor Frank has summarily removed the whole board of fire commissioners from office. His action is regarded as a grand coup in the interest of the political faction of which he is a leading representative, and as an effort to establish himself and friends in office. He made a demand upon the board of fire commissioners that the members pledge political fealty to him, or go by the board, and, as a result, their successors have been appointed Chairman Farrell, on being interviewed early one morning recently by the mayor, informed the latter that neither the fire commissioners nor the fire department were in politics. The mayor’s reply was that they should ’ stand in’ with him, and he was sorry they did not. Mr. Farrell thereupon brusquely informed Mayor Frank that if he wanted a new board of such a sort, all he had to do was to appoint one. The existing board however, was not in politics. The mayor retired smilingly; but,as soon as he reached his office,he wrote to Chairman Farrell that a new board had been appointed, and at the same time requested that everything should be transferred to its members who were as follows: W. W. Terry. George H. Durham, and Richmond II. Schwab. Mr. Terry refused to serve, his letter of declination stating that he did not care to serve on a board which was clearly intended by the mayor to be used for partisan ends. The other new commissioners declared they would not permit the fire department to be utilized as a political machine—and this all the more that the outgoing commissioners had done their work in a way that was beyond reproach.
“ Whether or not there will be a general shake-up of the rank and file, as well as of the clerical force of the department is not certain. The question, however, that naturally arises is, What will be the effect of this sudden change upon Chief Campbell? It is thought he will have to go, although the mayor has said in a general sort of a way that he contemplated no further removals. ‘The name of Thomas Jordan, a strenuous adherent of the Frank administration, is said by the knowing ones to be slated for the appointment, unless (some say whether or not) Chief Campbell shall promise to manipulate the fire department in such a way as to throw its whole strength on the side of Mayor Frank and his party, which, having captured the police department, is now desirous to secure that of fire. The citizens of Portland are indignant at the action of Mayor Frank.”
At Pittsburgh, Pa., on March 9, ten brick dwelling houses on Aurelia street, east end, all of which were occupied, were burned. The loss is $15,000; partly insured.
burned. At Bren ham. Texas, on March 9. the house of former Congressman D. C. Giddings was burned. The loss is $3$,000,