ANNUAL FIRE REPORT OF RICHMOND
The Board of Fire Commissioners of Richmond, Va., consists of: L. C. Jenkins, president: Robert Lecky, Jr., vice-president; W. A. Cheatwood, Charles F. Taylor, Charles Keppler, Stanley B. Tyler, and W. D. Franklin. L. S. Jones is secretary. The officers of the Fire and Fire Alarm Departments are: W. H. Joynes, Chief Engineer, Fire Department ; J. F. Raffo, first assistant engineer; O. F. Wise, second assistant engineer; L. S. Jones, secretary and third assistant engineer; W. H. Thompson, superintendent fire alarm department; P. G. Randolph, assistant superintendent.
Report of the Commissioners.
The report of the Board of Fire Commissioners, signed by President L. C. Jenkins, says, in part: During the year we provided for many improvements in the service, such as replacing four of our horse-drawn combination chemical engines and hose wagons with a like number of motor machines, by using the same bodies and equipment upon suitable motor chasses, and we have also replaced an old steam fire engine in Engine Company No. 6 with a modern and powerful motor pumping engine. These improvements have been recently completed and installed in active service, and from which we expect great things in the future, believing that they will so clearly demonstrate the efficiency of the motor apparatus for our service that you will at an early date provide the necessary funds for fully motorizing the entire department. These improvements were made possible by special appropriations made for these specific purposes upon our recommendation. And by the same means we have purchased a large lot and have about completed a most modern fire station for the protection of the growing section of the city south of the river. We have also contracted for latest type motor apparatus for this new engine house. This house and apparatus authorized and provided for by you, although new and modern in every respect, will be of no service until it is properly manned; therefore we will recommend that seven men, including a captain, be provided for this new company. We have also contracted for and expect to receive shortly a motor chassis for the combination chemical and hose wagon for Engine Company No. 11. When this motor apparatus is all in service we will have about forty per cent, of our apparatus motorized, and feel that in doing so we have wonderfully increased our efficiency. The Board has recommended the following features for the improvement and enlargement of the service, which will be submitted in detail in report of estimates for the year 1916. Each of our 21 companies has a lieutenant, who is selected from the ranks of the companies, and we deem it necessary and proper for the efficiency and discinline that these officers should receive a small increase in pay over the other firemen. In Highland Park we have only a horse-drawn wagon and four men, one of the men being a lieutenant; and the only house we have is a small corrugated iron affair, which was formerly used by the volunteer firemen to store their hand-drawn chemical engine. This house only provides scant and unsuitable room for the horse and wagon, and the men have to sleep in an old church building near by. In •this company we need a captain and two additional men, and we also need funds for the erection of an engine house and for the purchase of suitable fire apparatus. We now have motor combination wagons in Engine Companies Nos. 6, 8, 9, 10 and 13, and have provided for No. 11; and we recommend that the same motor equipment be added to Engine Companies Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7 and 12; we also recommend that a triple combination motor machine be provided for Highland Park, and this we deem most urgent, as the present water pressure in this section is very poor and practically all of the buildings are wood construction, and the territory is extensive. A small matter, but a most important one, is that we should have a motor supply and fuel wagon. We now have an Engine Company No. 14, located in the extreme northern part of Ginter Park, which is poorly situated and has all of its runs in one direction. We also have a Hose Company (No. 16) located in the southeastern part of Barton Heights, which is housed in a crude wooden shack about 12 feet high, with a shed for a wagon and hose. This is also poorly situated and the equipment is entirely inadequate for fire protection. Here, as in Ginter Park, we also have four men regularly assigned; therefore, you will see that both of these companies arc in the wrong place and insufficiently manned. Now the Board recommends that both of these houses and locations be abandoned by the Fire Department, and the two companies combined into one and located in the immediate neighborhood of Chamberlaync avenue and Brookland boulevard, which is the center between Ginter Park and Barton Heights, and easily accessible to both, and also to the thickly settled other adjacent sections of our city, and also directly on several natural thoroughfares leading to other important localities, and we think it is the ideal location for an engine house. This would also be a most economical measure, as we now have suitable fire apparatus in Ginter Park, which we propose to install in this new house, and by combining the forces of the two companies, we will have enough men, and the only cost will be for a suitable lot and the erection of the house. This cost, we think, could be covered by the sale of the present two locations and improvements that we propose to abandon. If such a combination is not effected, wc will need a new lot and house for Barton Heights and more men for each of the companies in question, and new apparatus for Barton Heights. Last year we received an appropriation of $5,000.00 for the purchase of a lot in the West End for an engine house site. Through the co-operation of the City School Board we have by grant from them with your approval a lot and still have the above fund to our credit. We recommend that a sufficient amount be added to this appropriation for the purpose of erecting a suitable engine house on the lot above noted. During the year the fire alarm department has rendered most efficient service, considering the almost antiquated central office equipment, which has, most of it, been in service for a great number of years and, in addition to that, is terribly over-crowded. We have repeatedly recommended that appropriations be provided for modern equipment in this most important branch of our Service. This matter is of great importance as the efficiency of the entire department necessarily depends on receiving speedy and correct alarms signals. The Board will recommend for the coming year certain appropriations providing for part of the equipment needed, jind thus hope to within a few years bring this department up to the standard desired. The outside work, such as extending our lines, and principally of extending our underground system, is naturally increasing every year, as we use mostly the poles of the telephone and other companies, and when they remove their overhead wires and place them underground, we must do likewise, or assume their overhead construction and maintain it, which is very unsatisfactory and expensive, and only temporary; therefore, we should be provided with funds to keep pace with this modern improvement, which is most important, and our wires should be placed underground wherever possible.
Report of Chief Joynes.
In the twenty-eighth annual report of the operations of the fire department for the year 1915, Chief Joynes says the department responded to 802 alarms in 1915, the alarms being classed as follows: Regular bell alarms, 834; general (6-6-6) alarms, 1; third alarms, 3; second alarms, 9; special calls, 7; still alarms, 297; silent alarms, 251. The silent alarms are not received by the fire alarm department and do not show in their report. The loss for the year was as follows: Buildings, $124,615.70; contents, $333,798.60. The value of property for the year was: Buildings, $5,857,314.00; contents, $2,647,253.00. The total insurance on buildings and contents in which fires occurred was $4,346,782.72, and the total value of buildings and contents was $8,504,567.00. The total loss for the year was $458,414.30, and the insurance loss for the year was $451,423.30.
There is in service 22,500 feet of 2j4-inch cotton rubber-lined fire hose, 6,400 feet of 3inch cotton rubber-lined fire hose, and 1,050 feet of 2-inch cotton rubber-lined fire hose. We also have 2,200 feet of chemical hose in service. We have in the store room (new) 1,300 feet of 2H-inch cotton rubber-lined fire hose and 600 feet of 3-inch cotton rubber-lined fire hose. The hose is all tested semi-annually under 200 pounds water pressure, and those sections that do not stand this pressure are condemned and only used for “dump hose” and sold to other departments of the city, also to contractors and individuals at reasonable prices. During the year we condemned 2,600 feet of hose, some of it having been in service for a number of years, and some of it having been injured at fires.
There are ten steam engines in service, and one in reserve.
Motor Fire Apparatus.
We have four combination motor engines, three tractor-drawn trucks and five motordriven combination wagons. We also have three chiefs’ automobiles for the chief and two assistant chiefs; also a car for the master mechanic, making a total of 15 pieces of automobile apparatus.
There are six combination chemical engines and hose wagons in the department, each drawn by two horses. These combination wagons are in the following stations; Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 12. Station No. 15 has a two-horse ordinary hose wagon, and Station No. 16 has a one-horse ordinary hose wagon. All of these wagons are in good condition.
There are five hook and ladder trucks in service. In Truck Company No. 1 there is an Amcrican-La France automatic motor-driven 85-foot aerial truck with a quick ladder-raising device. In Truck Company No. 2 we have a Hayes 85-foot aerial truck equipped with a qtiick ladder-raising device, driven by a Martin tractor. In Truck Company No. 3 we have an American-La France automatic 65-foot aerial truck with a quick ladder-raising device, driven by a Martin tractor. In Truck Company No. 4 we have an old Gleason and Bailey truck equipped with ordinary ladders and appliances, In Truck Company No. 5 we have a Hayes 75-foot aerial truck equipped with a quick ladder-raising device. All of the above trucks are in good condition. We have one small reserve truck, which is in fair condition only, and equipped with ordinary ladders and appliances. Trucks Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 carry 50 fret of 3-inch hose each, and are used as water towers.
There are fifty-seven horses. F’orty-six are in actual service and 11 arc extra horses. The large majority of these horses are in good condition and well suited for the service.
Inspection of Buildings.
The report says: We are following up the system adopted a few years ago of inspecting all public and semi-public buildings, such as hotels, theatres, boarding houses, churches, office and mercantile buildings, etc., so that we could have remedied or removed any condition liable to cause fire; also I find it very beneficial, both in keeping buildings clean and in good condition, and greatly helps the firemen; in case of fire they will know how to get in and out without difficulty. We also send firemen to theatres and large gatherings in public buildings, and we have a detail of firemen in the large department stores during the Christmas holidays. The business section of the city are divided into eighteen (18) districts, with a captain at the head of and responsible for each district, and they are required to make semi-monthly inspections of their districts; also report all defects found to this office. The number of inspections made by the officers during the year were 26,715. This fall we made a special inspection of smoke flues, pipes and heating plants, and have caused to be renewed and repaired about 400. I have also had inspected locations for and issued and renewed 5,661 permits for explosives, such as gasoline, carbide, kerosene oil, fixed ammunitions, etc., during the year.
Chief Joynes makes a number of recommendations, including: That all lieutenants in the departments be paid more than the other firemen, and next in amount to the captains. They are now paid the same as Grade “B” men. In Hose Company No. 15, Highland Park, we now have only four men, and a horse-drawn hose wagon housed in a corrugated iron building, entirely unsuitable, and the men are housed in a nearby church building. This is a thickly-settled section composed practically entirely of frame buildings, and this protection is only a makeshift. For this company I recommend the erection of a modern engine house, and the purchase of a light triple combination motor pumping engine, chemical and hose wagon, and, most important of all, the addition of at least three men, one to be a captain. On the South Side, the new house for Engine Company No. 17 is about completed, and by the time the appropriations for 1916 are available, the house will be ready for occupancy, and the new motor apparatus for this company will be ready for service, but up to this time we have no men provided for this new company. I would recommend that not less than seven men, including a captain, he provided for this company at once. Engine Companies Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7 and 12 at present have no motor apparatus in their equipment, and to keep pace with other developments and the demands made upon these companies, I recommend that they be equipped with suitable motor wagons, by either equipping their present bodies with the motor chassis or by the purchase of complete combination wagons. From both points of economy and efficiency, I especially recommend that a motor wagon of suitable size be provided for a fuel supply wagon. I recommend the consolidation of Engine Company No. 14, Ginter Park, and Hose Company No. 16, of Barton Heights, and that they be removed from their present locations, as neither one is suitably located, and established in the immediate neighborhood of Chamberlaync avenue and Brookland Park boulevard, this being a center between the two points of these present companies, and will afford ample protection for both Ginter Park and Barton Heights, and at the same time will be available for many other important outlying districts, and also for some of our important manufacturing plants in the northwestern part of our city. Of course, if this consolidation is effected we will need a new house and lot, but as we have the fire apparatus and equipment, this will be the only cost, and the houses and lots discarded, which are now the property of the city, could be sold for practically enough to cover this outlay. By this consolidation we will also have a fairly well-manned company, whereas the two companies concerned are at present entirely inadequately manned. This strikes me as being one of the best and most easily arranged improvements that can be made to increase our efficiency in the entire outlying territory. We now have a lot at the corner of Kensington avenue and Cleveland streets, and as this section of our city is growing rapidly, I recommend that provision be made to at once erect a suitable engine house at this point. As our service comes under the emergency class, we must always, even up to the last day of our fiscal year, keep instantly available an amount sufficient to speedily repair or replace any damage to our machines that are liable to occur at any minute; I beg to again impress the necessity of obtaining an increased appropriation to this fund. Our fire hose must be replaced regularly and the supply enlarged as we grow, and as this item alone should demand careful attention and a substantial increase, I cannot impress this item too strongly. A number of our houses have been equipped with steam heating plants, which have proven most satisfactory in every way, and where motor apparatus is installed this class of heating is a necessity, and we desire to continue this work until all of the houses arc so equipped. A few years ago you established our machine shop and employed a master machinist, and last year this department of the service had grown to such an extent that it was necessary to add to this force an assistant. As the quarters are quite crowded as at present arranged, to properly care for the work I recommend that the entire building be devoted to machine shop purposes, and the partition in the front of this building be removed with this object in view. I again call your attention to the fact that the quarters of Engine Company No. 7 and Truck Company No. 2 are not only poorly suited for our service, but these houses are dark, gloomy and apparently insanitary, and I most earnestly recommend that efforts be made to obtain more suitable quarters for these two important companies. It has been recommended for more than 20 years in these reports that a fire pump be installed on the city’s tug boat. I must again repeat this important recommendation, as such a pump would be of the greatest service on our water front, which is increasing in extent and value each year. I also again recommend that pipe lines, suitably arranged, be run from the city dock, through Cary and Main streets, through a number of our cross streets, thus placing at the disposal of our pumps an unlimited supplv of water at all times. This would be a grea’t adjunct to our service, and the cost would be comparatively small.