BINGHAMTON AND THE FIREMEN.
[Specially written for Fins AND WATBR.]
BINGHAMTON, N. V., August 19, 1898.
AS I briefly telegraphed on Wednesday last, the twenty-sixth annual convention of the New York State Firemen’s association began its sessions here on Tuesdaymorning last in the Armory and closed them on Wednesday, leaving Thursday and Friday as the days for the grand parade and tournament. The attendance throughout was very large, and, thanks to the excellent arrangements made by the local committee, all the new arrivals were met at the convention depot by convention guides, who directed them how to reach the places where they would be. The headquarters were at the Arlington ; but all the hotels were well filled. The city was well decorated ; ornamental arches were thrown across the streets and at night these were lit up,as was also the dome of the courthouse. The drill hall of the Armory itself, in which the convention met. was a mass of color, most artistically arranged, In the vestibule were some pieces of fire apparatus on exhibition and on the platform were the officers of the organization. Mayor De Witt, Col. Rogers, superintendent of the State Firemen’s Home, at Hudson, Judge Griffiths, of Troy, Judge Down and George E. Green, of Binghamton and Rev. J. H. La Roche, who, at the request of President O’Connor, of Waterford, opened the proceedings with prayer.
Mayor De Witt, in welcoming the association to the city, spoke in the highest terms of its volunteer fire department, of which many of Binghamton’s best citizens had been members and, as exempt firemen,were living amongst their fellow citizens and following various callings. He considered that “still further improvements should be made in the fire laws by the Sta^e.”
President O’Connor in reply adverted to the fact that the ranks of the association had been “ sadly depleted by those who had joined the regular army in Cuba,—and of these men the organization was* proud, though it had to mourn the loss of many who had died in the service of their country.”
George E. Green, in behalf of the local committee, in his words of welcome, declared that there was not a “more manly straight-forward set of men in New York State than the vo’untcet firemen of New York,” and in his reply Hon. L. E. Griffith said that the volunteer fireman was “as much of a gentleman as anybody else,” and that the people of Binghamton would have “ no occasion to be ashamed of them.”
On behalf of the Binghamton fire department Judge Down was emphatic on the point that no question of money or position, of politics, rate, color, or religion ever entered the mind of the volunteer firemen when fighting a fire. He could ask for nothing better than the respect and regard in which he is held by the entire community, and on examination it would always be found that more good deeds and acts were done by him than wrong ones.
Col. Rogers gave it as his opinion that Binghamton’s fire department was, perhaps, better known than any other in the State for “efficiency and its high grade.”
J. P. Powers, president of the W. W. Thayer hose company, of Dannemora, all whose members are officers of the Dannemora prison, presented President O’Connor with a floral “goodluck ” horseshoe.
In his opening address President O’Connor covered the work done by the various committees during the past year. He said that many bills passed by the legislature this year had done much towards lightening the duties of the volunteer firemen. Upon his visits to the State Firemen’s Home located at Hudson, N.Y., he found all circumstances very favorable to the comfort of the inmates. New York city sets aside ten per cent, of her tax income towards supporting and endowing this home, and surely the larger cities outside New York can do as well and should. In President O’Connor’s opinion a national organization composed of delegates from the various State associations should be formed, and in his address he favored the appointment of a committee by the convention for the purpose of conferring with representatives from other State organizations with a view to inaugurating such a movement.
The report of Secretary Thomas Honahan, of Frankfort, adverted to the care with which the association watched the legislation that concerned the welfare of firemen and paid a touching tribute to those members who died in the field or from disease during the war with Spain.
The treasurer’s report showed a balance of $1,121.16 in hand.
The Firemen’s Home at Hudson came in for a considerable amount of discussion, It cost about $35,000 to erect. The money was derived from private subscription and moneys obtained by special legislation which allows ten per cent, of the two per cent, brokerage charged on all insurance written in New Ycrk city, which brings in about $20,000 a year for the home. The trustees seemed desirous to keep the title deeds and not turn them over to the association, as it was claimed they promised to do at the Schenectady convention last year. The outcome of the discussion was that a committee of five lawyers was appointed to examine into the question as to whether or not the transfer of the deeds could be made legally and independently of the State legislature. A bill will be drafted looking towards that end, to be presented to the next legislature and another bill will be drawn up appropriating ten per cent, of the two per cent, collected in the entire State for the support of the home. The retiring trustees'(with the exception of former Governor Roswell P. Flower, who resigned from the board)—namely, J. T. Haggerty, Castleton ; C. J. Lenahan, Utica, and H. D. Brewster, Weedsport, were reelected.—Frank M. Baker, Owcgo, taking the place of Mr. Flower. The other members of the board are, J. E. Eggleston, Cortlandt; G. W. Aldridge, Rochester; John Croak, Port Richmond; A. B. Steele, Herkimer; E. P. Mann, Iowa; John H. Waydell and George W. Anderson, borough of Manhattan, N. Y.; Charles S. Rogers, Hudson; George W. Irish, Casenovia, John Courtney, borough of Brooklyn, N. Y., and John F. Schlosser, Fishkill Landing. The discussion occupied considerable time and it was mainly through the influence of Judge Griffiths, whose resolution was adopted, that any airangement was come to.
W. E. Churchill, as statistician of the association, read an interesting report, in which he dealt at length with the great Cripplegate fire in London during the past year and other destructive fires in Europe and on this continent.
The officers elected to serve during the ensuing year were as follows: President, Thomas F. O’Connor, Waterford (reelected unanimously); vice-presidents. Daniel Naylor, jr., Schenectady, W. E. Colgrove, Horseheads; secretary, Thomas Honohan, Frankfort; treasurer, George H. Scott, Cocksaekie; statistician, W. E. Churchhill, Weedsport—all of these reelections. Yonkers was chosen as the place of next year’s convention.
The parade was on a magnificent scale and marched in fifteen grand divisions, with between eighty and ninety companies in line. Its ranks were swelled bv many bands and visiting firemen from this city and numerous cities and towns in the State. In the fifteenth division among others were represented the La France Engine Company, of Elm ra and the American Engine Company, of Seneca Falls. The grand marshal, who was assisted by a large and efficient corps of guides, was D. F. Simpson. The competition at the hose races, etc., was as vigorous as the contestants, and prizes were numerous.
The daily exhibition by the pompier team, members of the fire department of the borough of Manhattan, N.Y., formed one of the great features of the convention. Those composing it were as follows: Thomas Reynolds, William O’Brien, Henry’ Kratch, Simon Murray, Bartholomew McDermott, Edward Sweeney, Edward Ford, Bernard Conlon, and J. Geary. Their efforts were loudly cheered by the spectators, of whom there were thousands—twenty thousand, beside the firemen, came into the city for the parade alone. Drill Master McAdams was in command.
The New York State Firemen’s Association is the strongest firemen’s organization on this continent. Its roster comprehends over 300 companies, besides numerous members and life members, many of whom are oldtime firemen and men who exert much influence in business and political circles.
The Binghamton fire department has a membership of 511, of whom eleven are paid full time and six part time. Chief Charles N. Hogg is its thoroughy efficient head. The fire area of the city, 2,500 acres, is protected by two steam fire engines, one chemical engine cn wheels, four chemical extinguishers, four hook and ladder trucks, one aerial truck, three hose carriages, two-horse 4,500 feet of good cotton hose, 1,200 feet of inferior,with fourteen horses. The value of the tquipment is $40,000; of the buildings occupied, $43,000. The Gamewell fire alarm is installed, with thirty-seven boxes.
A fire at Nijni-Novjorn, capital of the Government of that name, near the confluence of the Oka with the Volga, about 250 miles north east of .vloscow, had destroyed eighty houses and a number of factories. Forty persons were injured, and damage was done to the amount of $1,155,000.