BENEFITS OF INSTRUCTIONS AT DRILL SCHOOL
I have been requested to say a few words on the benefits derived by the members of the fire department from instructions received from attendance at the drill school, and to make my remarks clear I must say a few words about the drill school of the Boston Fire Department. What I am about to say is gathered from my twenty years’ experience in the Boston Fire Department, the last three years being as Drill Master of same. I know of the many years of experience the most of you gentlemen have had in fighting the common enemy, the flames. The conditions of the present day are so different from those of the past, in apparatus of the fire departments and the buildings in which fires are liable to occur, that we can only think of the fireman of the past, for the fight he made so handicapped, as a wonderful person. The Drill School of the Boston Fire Department, located at Fire Headquarters and instructed by the Lieutenant of Water Tower No. 2, is composed of all new men appointed to the force, who, in their first months are required to attend a session each day from 10 to 12 a. m., for thirty working days. They arc instructed in the proper method of raising the various ladders, how to climb over them in the right way. The pompier ladders arc used from time to time and the men are required to go to great heights oyer same. The tools and appliances of all kinds which are used in the department, are demonstrated from time to time and instructions on each, as to how to use same, arc given until each man becomes proficient to use them right. Lines of hose are laid out, couplings made up and taken apart. Lines arc carried over ladders and hauled to the roof over a hose hoist. In fact the men work as if at a fire with all the detail, except, the fire and smoke are missing. A short lecture of instructions on deportment and general conditions the men will be called upon to meet as they go through their career in the department is given each morning. They are taught obedience and to go about their duties in a quiet and orderly manner. In regard to the benefits derived from this course at drill school I can say only pleasant things, the department itself speaks of the early training of its members, in the working at fires and the general way the members carry themselves at all times. To a person who watches the fireman at work at a fire, as he climbs to a dizzy height over an aerial truck with a line of hose over his shoulder, or over any other ladder, maybe to rescue some helpless person overcome by smoke or fire, that person wonders how the firemen all work the same way, in the same orderly manner; but gentlemen, that is the early training that fireman had drilled into him at the Drill School and that fireman can take care of himself safely anywhere he is ordered to go. If the fireman should be inside of a burning building, working to extinguish the flames, he has that training he acquired at Drill School in his mind; his work goes on and there is no confusion or doubt in his mind as to what is expected of him, whether he has a line of hose to put to work or to ventilate some section of the building the work before him is clear and is done in that orderly manner which was instilled in him, having in mind the fact that his company is to work as a company and the members not as individuals. The recruits are instructed of the damage caused by the careless use of water used in extinguishing a fire and of the needless breaking of glass in ventilating a building; also of careless axe work in opening doors and many other destructive deeds. The fireman is always ready to obey the orders of his superior officers, never having in mind the thought of personal danger to himself. He has been taught at Drill School not to question any order of his superior officers, one of the many subjects he has been instructed in. The members seen out of quarters carry themselves in a business-like manner. They are not seen hanging around corners or lounging about with their coats open and their hats on the side of their heads; this subject was also included in their instructions at drill school. The fireman who you meet on the street should he be called upon to give information will be found all attention to his duty and in a polite and cheerful way give the desired information, reflecting credit on his early training at Drill School. All men have courage. Many go through life without, perhaps, being called upon to assert themselves, until some extreme emergency arises and then they do some heroic act. That is the condition of the recruit as he starts his first days at Drill School. He looks up at the dizzy heights which he will some day be called upon to scale by ladders or pompier ladders and wonders if he will be successful in his efforts; but that courage is there and after many careful instructions he is passed upon as competent to go into the department, with a full knowledge of the use of the many appliances that is to be found in the various apparatus of the department.
Paper read at Convention of the Massachusetts permanent Firemen’s Association, at Lowell 1915.