Chicago and the Two Platoon
Chicago city officials awoke last week to a realization that, with a depleted treasury and salaries of working employes reduced 20 per cent., they are on the verge of having about 750 additional employes and $1,000,000 annual expense forced on them by two double platoon bills now quietly progressing through the legislature. The bills represent the biennial attempt in the legislature to force Chicago to install the double platoon system in the fire department, and their advocates declare chances of success are brighter on account of the attitude of Governor Dunne, who has supported the labor unions in this demand from the time when he was mayor. When the last agitation for the double platoon was up before the city council figures were prepared In Lire Marshal Scyferlich, showing the probable cost and increase in men to the city, lie said that the increase and cost would he greater as the department has grown. The figures then were based on applying the double platoon to a limited district, bounded by North and Western avenues and 39th street, which would need 297 men. and to the entire city, which then would have added 642 men. A State law would apply to the entire city. The figures were:
Since that time the firemen have been granted a 10 per cent, salary raise. John O’Neill, representing the Chicago Federation of Labor, is now at Springfield supporting the bill for the double platoonists. Their organization marched in the place of honor at Governor Dunne’s inaugural parade.
“It is a question which is primarily up to the city and not to the fire marshal,” declared Chief Seyferlich. “If the city can finance the increase we can readjust the department to it and run the department. Another question Chicago should consider is whether two shifts in the lire department are going to give more protection than if the money were spent for more houses and more apparatus. We want an increase of 40 new companies over the city and the underwriters’ engineers agree that -it is needed, but for years the council has not been able to provide the money. Personallv the entire agitation for double platoon seems like a union labor move, for which I do not see any necessity,” continued Chief Seyterlich. “The discipline under it when it was tested was not any too good and it tended toward disorganization. The present system of ‘offs’ is the best in the country, giving every man 24 hours off every three days, or one-third of his time. I hardly think every alternate 12 hours will he a benefit or be enjoyed more by the men. though it will mean one-third more men. In San Francisco the citizens voted against the double platoon on the ground that they did not intend to pay firemen for sleeping in the engine houses. The theory of the system is that the men are to sleep at their homes. In Chicago, when the beds were removed from the engine houses, Former Mayor Dunne ordered them back the second night.”