BERKS COUNTY FIREMEN HOLD MEETING
The Berks County, Pa., Firemen’s Association, which was organized at Reading, December 30, 1913, held its quarterly meeting at Womelsdorf, Fa., March 28, with about 500 delegates present. President W. W. Wunder, ot Reading, who is also secretary of the State Firemen’s Association, and a Deputy State Fire Marshal, presided. A resolution was unanimously adopted deploring the change of the Reading fire department from a volunteer to a paid system, and urging the City Council to reconsider its vote authorizing the change. Chief H. G. Louser, of Lebanon, read an address on “Fire Losses and Fire Prevention.” State Fire Marshal J. L. Baldwin, in an address, dwelt on the necessity of fire drills in public schools and said that in Pennsylvania there is a law which imposes a fine on any school teacher who does not hold drills. He also referred to the duties of firemen in fire prevention and the decrease of the annual fire loss and that at no time has there ever been such a public interest throughout the State in favor of fire prevention as at the present time. J. W. Morgan, of the State Fire Marshal’s Bureau, presented statistics of the work of that bureau. The meeting unanimously voted for a safe and sane Fourth of July. Secretary S. L. Parkes and C. B. Spatz, of Boyertown, spoke in favor of this proposition. D. K. Hoch, county controller, spoke on “The Citizen and the Firemen.” John D. Keller, a State forester, on “Prevention of Fire in Woods,” and said that in Pennsylvania last year 500.000 acres of woodland were burned over with a loss of $760,000. Robert Mays, of Womelsdorf, spoke of the importance of firemen organizing for their own good and protection and of the importance of doing something to educate themselves as firemen and to improve the fire service and decrease the fire losses after they have organized. He said that the firemen of Berks county, when they organized, realized that they must do something to protect their interests and see to it that they receive their just rewards. The people in this community, by their endeavors in the past have shown the proper appreciation of what the volunteer firemen have done for them. John F. Ancona, of Reading, for the association, thanked the local firemen and citizens for their welcome and splendid entertainment and spoke in favor of fire prevention. The constitution and by-laws were read and will be printed and presented for final adoption at the next convention. They provide for three memberships, active, life and honorary, define the duties of the officers and fix the amount of dues and specify the date of the annual convention to be held on the third Saturday in December of each year, in Reading. The report of the secretary for the first quarter showed receipts of $64.50; expenditures, $25.65; balance, $38.85, to which was added $125, proceeds of the year book, the result of the efforts of the secretary. The next meeting of the association will be held at Boyertown, Saturday, June 27.
President Wunder in his address, in part, said: “It is but three months since this organization of firemen of the county has been effected, and in the short time of its existence much work has been accomplished looking toward the betterment of fire protection for the various municipalities, in not only better fire fighting appliances but the adoption of fire prevention rules fixing upon certain days in each year as clean-up days, to remove all inflammables. rubbish, waste and unnecessary things in and about the buildings; keep ashes away from fences and wooden buildings and not to put them in wooden receptacles will assist in the reduction of fire waste. We, the firemen, should take the subject matter of fire prevention up to insure better protection against fire and bring before the minds of the people the importance of this danger existing, and which threatens their lives and property. Continual agitation is one of the means of preventing fire. The more we keep the necessity of fire prevention before the public, the more they will realize its importance. One very good means of keeping the matter of fire prevention before the public would be to have the State, through the Fire Marshal’s office, provide muslin notices, printed and circulated throughout the State and posted in conspicuous places, warning against fire and the importance of fire prevention. Too much publicity cannot be given this subject. Fire protection is a necessity in all built up places, to prevent the spreading of fires and the destruction of property of others. This, too, will apply to localities where a few buildings are situated, and within a radius of several miles protection can be provided for in such cases by the locating of a motor driven apparatus at a central place, having a water pump and chemical tank attached. This subject should receive consideration by us at these meetings and recommended for installation in small towns. For the betterment of the condition of firemen, as a protection for themselves, I would suggest the formation of a relief association, whereby relief can be given to those who may become sick or hurt while doing public fire duty, and the establishment of a death benefit fund upon such lines that would ensure the paymen. of a set sum in case of death, no matter what the cause of death may be.”
He urged pensions for aged and infirm firemen and that a fund be created therefor by the enactment of State legislation that would give to all municipalises a percentage on the salvage of property saved Dy the departments, this percentage to be devoted for relief or pensioning of firemen or for increased protection against fire in the maintenance of the department. He said: “The adoption of a law covering this would be the means of assisting the municipalities in the operation of their fire departments, as well as to assist the fire insurance companies with less losses on the amount of insurance carried on property. Namely, where a risk is carried it will be to the interest of the firemen to use care in the extinguishing of a fire; by thus doing their percentage on salvage would be greater and the payment of losses by fire insurance companies less. It is better for fire insurance companies to pay to the municipalities for such purposes I have named than to pay a total loss on the property insured. I recommend the adop_____ion of resolutions loftking to the passage of State legislation covering the object outlined. If insurance companies compel cities and towns to procure better apparatus, more of it and greater and better water supply, the taxpayer has a just right to demand of the fire insurance companies to pay for some of that protection. Another matter that would assist the taxpayer in maintaining a fire department is the establishing of a fire insurance association, operated by the fire departments of the municipalities. Many things can be accomplished through meetings of this kind and they give to those present ideas whereby better fire protection can be gotten.”