Calling Out Firemen for Useless Alarms
Fire Marshal Lemoin, of Grand Rapids, Mich., has come out with a strong protest against the practise prevailing in that city of sending out needless general alarms for the services of the fire department, when a telephone call for small fires would answer the same purpose. The practise, unfortunately, is not confined to Grand Rapids. It is indulged in in cities of a larger growth, where it cannot but be evident that a still alarm or at most one sent in by telephone would answer every purpose, and, instead of bringing out, as in New York City, two or three or more pieces of heavy apparatus, with horses and crews, would accomplish the desired effect by turning out a chemical engine. That, however, does not seem to flash upon the minds even of the police, who certainly ought to know better, with the result that when a tar barrel is set on fire in the street, or some nervous passerby mistakes escaping steam for the smoke of an incipient fire, a box alarm is turned in. often involving in smaller cities and towns a general turn out of the whole department, with its apparatus, and causing no end of excitement, trouble and sometimes even loss of money to those who, as call men or volunteer firemen, are bound to be on hand. Most particularly is this practise to be deprecated in these days of automobiles, which have an awkward habit of burning up in the street. In nine cases out of ten, when such an accident happens, some fussy policeman, some excited passerby or some nervous chauffeur immediately flies to the nearest alarm box and pulls it. thereby bringing out a number of pieces of apparatus, several horses and many men. and, as a rule, to no purpose, seeing that a supply of sand liberally administered, or a chemical stream even from a hand extinguisher, or a soda water syphon, would effect the desired end, where a heavy stream of water thrown by an engine would be useless. Of course, it is argued that firemen arc paid to do that work. Granted; but that is no reason why they should be subjected to needless trouble, and always to a certain amount of risk to life and limb (for it is when running to small fires and answering needless alarms that so many firemen receive fatal hurts), in order to do work that might as easily be done by a few pails of water, a shovelful or two of sand or dust or even a syphon of carbonated water. Nor is there any reason why costly apparatus and high strung and expensive horses should have to undergo the wear and tear that accompanies all such runs, or why the money of the taxpayers should be wasted in paying for the unnecessary cost of repairs which could be so easily avoided by a little thoughtfulness on the part of the public.