Better Fire Protection for Philadelphia
New fire houses for every section of Philadelphia, new sanitary police stations and new firefighting equipment of the very latest, most modern type, besides better trained horses, are some of the things that George D. Porter promises to give the city before his term as director of public safety expires. Provided, of course, that councils give him sufficient money to pay for the improvements. Director Porter is working hard in an investigation of conditions that exist in other cities, and says that a comparison of the protection afforded much smaller towns puts Philadelphia iu anything but a praiseworthy position. A good part of the proposed $4,000,000 loan, he hopes, may be used to further the plans he has formulated. Director Porter went to Atlantic City recently to examine a new motor fire engine and motor patrol wagon, which were recently installed in that city. “I hate to knock Philadelphia.” said Director Porter, in discussing his plans, “I love the city too well to make too many complaints, but I tell you frankly that when I visit other cities, most of them much smaller, and see how far ahead they are in the matter of fire protection and in matters pertaining to the police department I am honestly so ashamed that I have to hang my head. Before I get out of office there will he great changes made if the people of Philadelphia will co-operate with me and I am given the money to work with. We should have motor police patrols in every district in town. It costs $18 a month to keep a horse and tile maintenance of one auto patrol is only $3 for the same period. In a little while the motor wagons would more than pay for themselves in money saved the city. Philadelphia fire stations are way behind the times and so are the police stations. During a recent inspection trip in West Philadelphia I found rooms in some of the stations that I would not put my dog in and expect him to have a good nights rest. Old wooden beds, sunken in the middle, unsanitary surroundings and everything that should not be I found. I want to build new stations—not the old style, but structure providing plenty of air and light from all sides, where the men on the force and in the fire department who have to live in them most of the time can he healthful and happy. It would appear, because of certain changes that have been made in the personnel of the police force in the past few weeks, that it is the intention of the department of public safety to continually shake things up. This is not the case. Take my word for it. Men will not be let out of the police department except for cause. One thing, however, I shall insist on as long as I am in office, and that is service. Service and good service is due the city from every man sworn in as a policeman. I am proud of the last lot of men sworn in. They were fine fellows, several of them standing 6 feet 6 inches in their stocking feet. Each man had a talk with me before he left city hall, and each knows what I and Philadelphia require of him.”
Returning to the subject of fire protection. Director Porter criticized the conditions in the Fox Chase district. “1 found on investigation in Fox Chase.” he said, “that the nearest fire box to the box Chase station is 2 1/2 miles away, and that the horses and men there are also expected to answer alarms from a box more than seven miles distant. This is another of the evils I need money to get rid of.”
In his effort to improve fire protection, Director Porter will he advised in a large measure by the new commission.