Motor Vehicle Driver Pulling to Wrong Side Causes Chief’s Car to Collide With Telegraph Pole—The Funeral

A BATTALION chief in New York City has been martyred in the line of duty, not at a fire, but going to one and Traffic is the cause of his untimely death.

Michael F. Harley, nineteen years a fireman and a battalion chief only since last May, the father of three young children and as dutiful a husband and fireman as ever wore the blue of New York has been sacrificed, because a motor vehicle driver, licensed to drive just one week before, pulled to the wrong side of the highway to let Harley’s car go by and the fire machine crashed into a telephone pole, in an attempt to avoid hitting the sedan directly in its path.

Chief Harley died ten minutes later in the Concv Island Hospital. His driver, Herbert Blessing is still confined there. He has a broken nose and a lacerated face, but will recover Dr. Archer says.

Chief Harley’s funeral on Saturday last attracted hundreds of firemen, other than those officially detailed to the escort which was in charge of Deputy Chief David J. Kidney. Assistant Chief Joseph B. Martin and Deputy Chief John O’Hara led the cortege. Chief Kenlon was unable to attend, but he was at the Harley home the night before and spent over an hour with the widow of the dead chief. Dr. Archer was with him. The pallbearers were Batt. Chiefs Rogers, Jireck, Fallon, Foley, McGarry and Dooley. The fire department band led the wav. Fire Chaplain Edward P. Costello participated in the requiem at St. Patrick’s Church in Ft. Hamilton.

Kenlon Says Traffic is More Dangerous Than Fire

Fire Chief John Kenlon in lamenting the death of Battalion Chief Harley said, that the records of his office disclose that since motor vehicles have come into general use, thirty-three per cent of the firemen killed in the discharge of their duty, were killed in accidents on the highway while responding to fires, even though the law gives them the right of way.

The Chief said that Harley had been a good fireman with an unblemished record of nineteen years service and twice recorded on the roll of merit for special service.

”I have pointed out on many occasions,” Chief Kenlon said, “and I repeat it now that firemen are in greater danger while traveling to a fire than they are while engaged against the actual fire itself. At a fire, the firemen are under discipline and under the protecting eyes of their officers who safeguard them from danger as much as possible, but enroute to a fire, the firemen of this city are forever at the mercy of all manner and kind of motor vehicle driver. Thirty-three per cent of the deaths in the line of duty resulted from accidents on the streets of this city.

“The advent of the motor vehicle has brought with it a selfish and criminal disregard of the rights of fire apparatus to the highway. Drivers of horses in other days rarely failed to pull aside and stop in order to give approaching fire engines a clear road.

“To-day we find all over this city, motor vehicle drivers who actually engage in a race with fire apparatus responding to the call of duty. Too little attention is paid to the bells, sirens and whistles. We have the loudest type of signals to warn of our approach. The department itself has taken every possible precaution to prevent accidents, even going so far as to issue ord rs to the officers that they will be subjected to charges and penalties, if investigation shows that they fail to exercise due care and control of apparatus.

The Wrecked Chief's Car, Collision of Which With Telegraph Pole, in Avoiding a Citizen's Auto, Caused Death of Battalion Chief Michael F. Harley, of New York Fire Department.

“The policemen assigned to traffic posts give firemen splendid cooperation, which of course is expected, but taking the traffic conditions as a whole, there must be a change in the attitude of the motor driving public toward fire apparatus, if the firemen are to reach the scene of duty with reasonable safety.”

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