DESCRIPTION of private fire departments have, from time to time, appeared in the columns of FIRE AND WATER, some of which have been on a small scale; others, like that of the Pennsylvania Railway Company in Philadelphia, on a scale hardly inferior to that of a first city. How useful such organizations are in checking an incipient fire and in aiding the regular fire department has likewise been demonstrate I—their assistance being rendered all the more valuable not only on account of the skill of their members as firefighters, but also because of their acquaintance with the premises and their being able to act as guides to the trained firemen of the city.


One of the bes drilled and most efficient of such private fire departments is that of Parke, Davis & Co., the firfamed wholesale and tn.mufac u ing chemists and druggists of Detroit, an account of which has been specially written for 1*IRI AND WATER (the illustrations being courteously supplied by the finn itself).

Leon C. Fink, chief of the Parke, Davis & Company’s fire department writes as follows

“Knowing the reputation your journal enjoys, we are naturally pleased to learn that our little organization has attracted your attention and is considered worthy of official recognition. * * * I have ordered the following electrotypes from half-tones, taken from photographs we happened to have at hand. (1) Cut showing Main Laboratory builJings at Detroit; (2) our “ fighting force” of sixty drilled men ; (3) electric alarm system and night patrol register in Parke, D .vis & C impany’s fire department headquarters; (4) pump house ; (5) bust picture of chief. I also understand that Mr. Laichinger (the electrician of the department), has an electrotype taken from one of his photographs, if you desire to use it. He deserves considerable credit for the instalment and maintenance of our complete alarm system.


“You will please understand that our fire department is not A temporary fanciful affair. It was organized in 1882 and has .since been in constant service. It is maintained to protect our plant and we have devoted much careful attention to it. Its members are thoroughly drilled and its officers have been tempered by experience. For example, the writer of this communication has devoted fifteen years to a careful study of precautionary measures necessary to prevent fire, to extinguish it in incipient stages and to confine flames to limited sectians of a building in case it gains considerable headway before it is discovered and placed under control. * *

“ We have here laboratory buildings covering three blocks of ground. In view of the fact that we are compelled to handle large volumes of alcohol, ether, benzine, and some explodve substances, our operations are naturally attended with considerable danger, which, however has been reduced to the lowest possible degree by the establishment and rigid maintenance of tire department regulations. Y-»u are, of course, aware that we hive at stake more than the mere money value of our plant. Certain features of it could not be replaced at any price. A large proportion of our products require weeks, and others sev.-ral months to prepare. Meanwhile thoasands of pharmacists and physicians throughout the world are depending upon us for supplies. Much of our machinery has been built to meet onr special requirements, and we are doing everything in our power to avoid the possibility of having our facilities suddenly destroyed by fire.


“We have furthermore to protect an accumulation of valuable records covering the complete history of every lot of pharmaceutical preparations made in our laboratory during the past twenty or twenty-five years. These records bear the signature of every operator who performed a part of the work and must share the responsibility. They also show the amount and identity of each ingredient used. Then, too, we have files containing all the correspondence carried on since the establishment of the laboratory in its present location.

“Our fire department was organized sixteen years ago and we can point to a clean record, as no fire has ever passed beyond its control since the beginning.”

LEON C. FINK, Chief.

The following is the roster of Parke, Davis & Company’s fire department:

Chief. Leon C. Fink; assistant chief, James W. Tonge.

Extinguisher Battalion at exits.—Company No. 1—Chas. Densteadt, captain; Albert Dickson, exit No. 1; Jacob Lang, exit No. 2; F’ed. Leverenz, exit No. 3; Chas. McKay, exit No. 4; Wm. Keeble, exit No. 5; Chas. Schroeder, exit No.6; Frank Tirama, exit No. 7; John Mademann, axe. Company No. 2—Frank Tiller, captain; B. Younglove. exit No. 8; Chas. Currier, exit No. 9; H. Schultz, exit No 10; N. Steigler, exit No. 11; John Burke, exit No. 12; N. Matzeu, exit

No. 13, J. Clavehn, exit No. 14; Ferd. Reese, exit No.

M Peterson, axe; Julius Heusel. respirators.

Hose Battalion. — R. L. Thompson, captain. Company No. 1—Geo. Young, 1st lieutenant; Chas. Yolker, John Zang, R. Hall, Will Ilehn, H. Wisner, Geo. Fuller, Wm. Robert. Company No. 2—0:to Grode, 2d lieutenant. W. Harron, James Stanbury, Herman Wegert, B. R. Sheldon, Chas. Reese, Eleiu Berdan; John Davis, engineer; J. Roberts, assistant engineer.

Hook an ‘ Ladder Company.—Bert. Brown, captain; laddermen — Thos McGraw, Joe Marchowitz, Adolph Janisse, John W. Spillane, J. Rautenbarg (hook). O. Buchbinder (hook), Henry Prestel (axe), Emil Peck (axe), J. Kern, crowbar.

Auxiliary.—Notification—L. B. Hayward. C. C. Milburn, Thos. Clancy; triangle alarm—W G. Snyder; nignt patrol— C. C. Williams, F. Rudolph. G. E. Lumson, Wm. Draper; surgeon, J. M. Francis, M. D.; electrician, J. H. Laichinger. Reorganization. April, 1898.

The following equipment and precautionary measures have been adopted: Four night patrolmen on duty from 6 p. m. to 6:18 a. m., with two fire department captains within easy call by electric alarm. Night patrolmen report hourly to the District Telegraoh Station downtown, and from sixty stations throughout the buildings registering on two electric time detectors in Parke Davis & Company’s fire department headquarters.

The buildings are divided into sixty districts, and connections made from each by an electric alarm system, whereby notice of fire can be signaled to the fire department headquarters in the chief’s office during the day. This fire-alarm indicator embraces a continuous ringing attachment, so that, when an alarm is once turned in, bells ate rung in different departments,also a large eighteen-inch fire gong,supplemented by a triangle alarm rung by hand in the courtyard.

Two hundred and fifty feet of two and one-hall-inch hos$ is always connected on the hose cart, and 150 feet hangs under the verandas at the west side of the courtyard ready for immediate use; 200 feet also kept on a reserve reel. Two standpipes in building No. 8 with two connections on each floor and 300 feet of two-inch hose attached. One Laidlaw & Dunn duplex fire pump 7×4 1-2 ten-inch stroke, and one Dean fire pump 5 1-8x9x10, are installed in duplicate, so that either one can be used in case of accident. Fifteen five-gallon Babcock extinguishers are carried to point of danger on each alarm; forty more chemical extinguishers of other descriptions and 125 fire buckets (filled) are distributed throughout the buildings. Drilled fire department of sixty men fully equipped with apparatus constantly ready foi service during business hours. Fires under boilers and in forge room (Annex No. 1) only. Boiler and forge rooms arched, with cement floors. Buildings heated by steam. The entire plant is lighted throughout by electricity; current from Detroit Electric Light & Power Company being used when our electric plant is not in operation. Use of gas tor heating allowed under close restrictions and ignited by safety-lamps when needed.

In fire department headquarters (chief’s office) there is a switch-board equipment with one sixty-four point annunciator, showing location of alarm boxes, two electric watchmen’s registers and an auxiliary fire alarm system, connected with eight boxes located at convenient points throughout buildings and courtyard. This system is connected with city alarm box No. 512. and through it the Detroit fire department can be called without leaving the premises. Chief of fire department sleeps in Main Building subject to call by electric gong connected with push buttons in courtyard.

Main Building, Annex No..and Biological stable (Annex No. 4) are divided into eighteen sections separated by good walls, fitted with fifty pairs double tin-cLd fireproof doors. Eight elevator shafts and vaults outside Main Building protected by twenty-eight pairs firs.-class double fireproof doors. Windows and doors in Main Building and Annex No. 3 protected at dangerous points by 225 heavy tin-ciad fireproof shutters, corrugated iron curtains, fireproof glass, etc. Four keys to city alarm box catried by chief of department and night patrolmen, two on switch-board for Notification company, one at main gateway, and one in Biological stable. Eight hoists in courtyard for raising hose line to upper floors of Main Building Court-yard in Main Building surrounded by co uplete system of veranda.with ten outside staircases, by means of which almost every room can be reached. These answer in pi .ce of ladders and fire escapes. Red cards pointing to rearest fire apparatus and alarm box posted conspicuously throughout buildings. Assistant chief of fire department patrols buildings dutingnoon hour. Watchman on duty at gate and one patrolman on duty in laboratories, also one watchman in Biological stables evtiy Sunday and holiday. Buildings never left alone


There are posted conspicuously throughout the buildings rtd cards bearing the following:

Fire department regulations.— 1. Matches must not be used or stored in any part of the laboratory. Safety matches m ,y be used in the private offices and engine-room.

  1. Employes are strictly forbidden to carry matches in the buildings. Boxes are located in the main archway witeie matches may be obtained when leaving the laboratory.
  2. Electric lights will be provided day and night. The use of gas is to be avoided when feasible. Special safety lamps f«*r lighting gas will be furnished when rtquired.

Smoking in any part of the laboratory is positively forbidden .

  1. Metal receptacles are provided for waste paper, sweepings, and other refuse, and under no circumstances should wooden containers be employed for that purpose.
  2. Rifu-e containers are not to be placed under tables,shelving, or other woodwork but should occupy a conspicuous position in the room,where they will always be in plain sigh’.
  3. Every evening.before the buildings are turned over to the night patrolmen, each department chief will -ee to it that a.i refuse containers in his department are placed outside in a space assigned for that purpose, in order that their contents may be properly collected and removed.
  4. Oily rags must not be permitted to remain in the building over night. Do not throw them in the refuse container whee they may cause spontaneous combustion in a few hours: send them directly to the boiler-room, where they will be promptly burned.
  5. Overalls, clothing, and rags of every description, which may be used in the regular course of wotk, must be hm g up in suitable place when not in actual service. Under n > circumstances are they to be concealed in drawers or thrown upon closet shelves.
  6. to. Mops should be suspended by the handle so that the rags will hang clear from the walls and floor, in order to allow free circulation of air around them and avoid conditions L.voiable to spont neous combustion. Do not stand them in the corners of dressing-rooms, closets, etc.
  7. Two fireproof houses have been provided in the yard back of Annex No. 1 for storage of inflam liable and explosive mareri d, such as benzine, ether, oil turpentine, collodion, carbon disulphide, terebene. acetone, e c Special written permission must be obtained befo e any required amount of these dangerous products can be used or stored in the laboratory.
  8. Phospho us must be stored in safe containers in the small round house in the courtyard. Be sure that all phosphorus is covered with water and proper precautions taken to prevent danger from leakage or freezing.
  9. Explosive materials such as nitroglyeeiine solution, nitroglyceiine powder etc., must be stored in the fiieproof magazine provided for that purpose in the yard back of Annex No. 1.
  10. Ether, benzine, and other dangerously inflammable liquids required for frequent use in the analytical and experimental departments must be stored in the box which has been placed in the courtyard for that purpose.
  11. Nitroglycerine solution must not be brought into the laboratory until actually required for use—under no circumstances can it be allowed to remain there over night.
  12. Every package of explosive material, such as nitroglycerine solution, and mixiuies containing potassium chlorate with sugar, oils, or other organic materials must bear a special red “Dangerous—Explosive” label.
  13. All containers holding phosphorus, phosphorus mixtures for pills, benzine, ether, oil turpentine, etc , must bear a special rtd “Dangerous —Inflammable” label.
  14. A fireproof workroom has been provided in the rear of Annex No. 1 where all operations involving the use or distillation of more than one-half pint of ether, benzine, etc., must be conducted—all operations being subject to the supervision of the fire department.
  15. Fireproof doors must be kept securely closed during every noon hour, night, and holiday,
  16. Written permits covering necessary exceptions to the above rules will be issued by the chief of our fire department.
  17. If a fire is discovered in the laboratory, call our fire department quickly by means of one of the alarm boxes located at convenient points throughout the buildings.
  18. The space in front of fire apparatus and alarm boxes must be kept clear.
  19. Department chiefs will be held personally responsible for any violation of these regulations which may occur in thei 1 departments.

Under such rules and with the adequate eqiupment prov ded by the firm the establishment of Parke, Davis & Coup any should be at least able to hold in check any outbreak of fire that may take place in their establishment at whatever hour of the day or night, Their example might well be followed by other large manufacturing and business houses. If it wen . the saving in insurance risks alone would be considerable,

It may b_* added that, in addition to the apparatus already described, Chief Fink has now in view a plan providing f r the introduction of a pipe and hydrant system to be connec id with a large I.aidlaw & Dunn pump, fourteen by ten by ten capacity 550 gallons per minute. By this arrangement it w I be pos-ible to stretch in a very short space of time two ad itional lines of two and one-half-inch hose and to throw strong one ai d om-quar’er-inch streams into any part of the Main Labor tion building.


To show the estimation in which this private fire department is held by the people of Detroit, it may be mentioned that on a recent occasion Chief Fink, who is also assistant superintendent of the establishment of Parke, Davis & Co , invited the officers of the city’s fire department to pay a visit to his department (which the Detroit Journal calls the “most “complete private organization of its kind in the world”). The invitation was accepted by Assistant Chief Kendall, Secretary Stockwell. Master Mechanic Beaufait, Assistant Master Mechanic Bresnahan, and others. The Journal’s account cf the visit says that

a halt was made at one of the fite alarm boxes, and an alarm was turned in. In an instant, men darted out from doors and windows; fifteen of them lined up with ex inguishers; fifteen grabbed the hose and ran it out; while nine manned the hook and ladder. Not one word h?.d been spoken, yet in thirty-two seconds water was being poured on the building; and in foityfive reconds the hose had been hauled to the roof. Chief Fink blew two or three signals on his whisle. and in five minutes more the apparatus was put away, and all the men were back at their work.

As Chief Biiley. of th2 fire deputment of Patchogue (L. I.), N. Y.. positively refused reelection, his successor is Assistant Chief Simpson. FrankC. Lane, of Riverhead (L. I.), N. Y., has been elected chief of the local fire department.

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