AN APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE TITLE OF FIRE ENGINEERS

AN APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE TITLE OF FIRE ENGINEERS

To the Members of the International Association of Fire Engineers.

Brethren:

As there is a proposition to change the title of our association from “Fire Engineers, to “Fire Chiefs,” I appeal to you to save our name. To he a fire engineer is to be a person of distinction, one on whom all civilised governments has conferred great authority; to be a fire chief, without the title of engineer, is to be a person of no authority—a meaningless title. When the association was formed, an appeal was made to the chief engineers of the country to assemble together at Baltimore in the year 1873. I he record shows that there were in attendance forty-eight chief engineers and seven assistant engineers. There were no fire chiefs present. During the thirty-three conventions held in different parts of the country, there has been an average attendance of about 2on persons, consisting of chief engineers, assistant engineers, fire commissioners and other persons connected w ith the tire service. Yet by the records 1 cannot find one who was registered as a lire chief. When the association meets at Dallas, and the members are registered, it will probably be found that there is not one person present whctec title is tire chief. There will he chief engineers, assistant engineers, captains, lire commissioners, and representatives of insurance and other interests closely allied to the fire service. I low irrational, to use a mild word, when there are not any firemen of that description in the service! 1 think many of our members are misled because, when we meet socially, we say: “How are you. Chief’” It is the same when w’c meet our doctor: “Hew are you, Doctorf” or some military officer, such as a colonel or a general ‘This is all proper on the street; hut, when we conic to transact business, we must use the title by which we are authorised to do business. This much from a business point of view. We are happy in the belief that those who for thirty three years have given of their means and their talent are not ashamed of their title as engineer We are proud of that name. We believe that we have been of some value to the fire service of the country through the work done in the association of fire engineers. If the noble army of martyrs who have given their lives to this service could speak, they would earnestly pray that the association of fire engineers would not do any act that would he a reproach on their memory. The men of today as well as those who have gone before knew what they were about when they gave to this association of firemen, the title of fire engineers. We earnestly hope that there are enough fire engineers, both chief engineers and assistant engineers, now on earth to save our splendid name—our title of International Association of Fire Engineers.

JAMBS R. HOPKINS,

Chief Engineer, Fire Department,

Somerville, Mass.

EDITORIAL COMMENT ON THE ABOVE.

Attention is earnestly requested to this “Appeal” to the members of the International Association of Fire Engineers from Chief James R. I lopkins, nearly the oldest member of that association in point of service, and one of the best known of the fire engineers of the United States and Canada. A careful perusal of it will show that he is altogether opposed to the proposition to substitute for the original title of ‘International Association of Fire Engineers,” that of the “International Association of Fire Chiefs”— a step which he, with other wellknown chief engineers of fire departments, considers would be in a backward, rather than a forward direction, and would entail the assumption of a title which is not significant of the high position held by such officers. The word “chief” may stand for anything from a head scavenger upwards, while, as marking the position held by the chief of a fire department—one at least as honorable as that of the chief of an army—inasmuch as his office involves the saving of life and property, while the other stands for the destruction of both—but the addition of the word “engineer” definitely stamps the work he is expected to perform namely, that of directing his subordinates, who have care of the engines, steamer or chemical and the other instruments for the extinction of the great majority of the fires that occur. These subordinates bear the title of “engineer;” it seems, therefore, to he a logical conclusion that on their head should be conferred that of “chief engineer”—and this, all the more that every piece of fire apparatus, like every weapon of destruction in the army, is, in reality, an engine of war to he used against a relentless foe. That being so, in the opinion of such weighty authorities as Chief Hopkins and others whose ideas on the subject have already been quoted in FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING for June 23, 1906, pp. 320-330. June 30. 1906, P339, the existing title of the association might remain as it has always been. It may be pointed out that the only change in the title of the association that has been proposed, not to say adopted—was that recommended by the late Secretary Hill at the Montreal convention of August, 1894, when he recommended that, so as to allow of the admission of non-American members, the word “International” should he substituted for “National.” That recommendation was unanimously adopted, and till within the past twelve months, when the agitation for the proposed alteration sprang up, the association has neither changed nor wished to change its style—which some would look upon as pretty fair evidence that such an alteration does not appeal to the minds of the majority. From the standpoint of logic and language, therefore, unless, as Prince Talleyrand has put it. “language is given ns to conceal our thoughts,” the title “chief engineer” seems to he the only one that legitimately defines the details and work of the head of a fire department. Tt is also important to point out the fact that State associations of chief fire engineers are being organised throughout the country. Already half a dozen of these State associations are in existence, and, so far, they have proved fairly successful. The question, then, is: Can the International Association of Fire Engineers afford to trifle with the title hv which it has been known since its formation, one which has brought it to its present eminent position amongst the fire people throughout the world? This journal has no opinion to offer on the subject; but we consider it our dutv to point out a few facts in connection with the association which may have some hearing upon the proposed change of its title. To our way of thinking, the more dignified the association is made, the greater inducement it will he for the members of the different State associations to attend the International conventions. If there is anv material benefit to he derived by (be fire engineers of the United States in changing the title of their association, by all means let the change he made. If. however, it is simple the fancy of an individual or two. we think it very important for the success of the association that we should cry, “Halt!”

PER CAPITA COST OF FIRE PROTECTION.

By way of strengthening the constant insistence in these columns on the erection of fire-resistant buildings as means of preventing fires and aiding in their speedy extinguishment in our large cities, the following comparative statement of the per-capita cost of fire protection in certain great cities of the United States and Great Britain and Ireland compiled by Chief Hopkins, of Somerville, Mass., speaks for itself. In England, Scotland and Ireland, hollow walls and floors and shingled roofs within the town limits are forbidden by law, as are likewise frame buildings, sheds, etc., unless under very exceptional circumstances and very rigid conditions. Hence in these cities the fire brigades do not need either such powerful steamers or most of the other facilities called for in the United States and Canada, where, as yet, fire-resistant buildings are largely the exception and from all appearances will continue so for many years to come, necessitating the maintenance of heavy and costly engines and a much more numerous corps of firefighters. Chief Hopkins gives his figures as follows, those for the United States being based upon the census of 1900. They are as under:

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