Chief A. M. Clifford Defends Pasadena Fire Department

Chief A. M. Clifford Defends Pasadena Fire Department

Chief A. M. Clifford, of Pasadena, Cal., replies as follows to the criticism made of his department by former Fire Commissioner Medill, and published in local newspapers and reproduced in fire service publications immediately after the recent Maryland Hotel tire in that city. Chief Clifford says: “I have been a member of the Department since August, 1890, and Chief since May, 1901; I think we have a past record that will compare favorably with other cities and departments of our size. Until May of last year, the department was under a board of four Commissioners, with the Mayor as chairman, making five. The last year we have had the commission form of Government, and the department is now under the Commissioner of Public Safety. Mr. Medill was one of the four commissioners for about five years appointed in May, 1905. The first thing he did was to procure a turnout suit, fix up a swinging harness for his horse (later he purchased a motorcycle), to attend all fires. As soon as he arrived at the fire he was giving me and all the members of the department orders as to what to do. I spoke to him quietly at first, telling him I had charge and was held accountable for the department’s work. But it did not seem to do any good. He would go on just the same. Then I called him down publicly. Told him if I heard another order from him to the men, I would put him off the fire ground, and see that he did not return. I gave the men orders to pay no attention to him. Of course that made him sore. Then he would go to fires and report to the Mayor and other commissioners, what a bungling job the department had made at fires. To satisfy him, they would go with him and myself to investigate. They found the owners of the property satisfied with the work of the department. Not once did they have any serious fault to find, so the Mayor and commissioner got disgusted and quit going to investigate on his say. Since then he goes to the newspapers, or some organization. He has been after the insurance board. The letter he wrote about the Maryland Hotel fire he had read at the meeting of the taxpayers and civic league, a new organization. He has a friend, who ran an engine in the department at one time, and who now wants to get back, and cannot, because he is not an engineer. He is writing letters corroborating Medill’s statements. The Maryland Hotel was a three-story wooden building, with open partitions and elevators from the basement to the roof. The fire started in the basement near the gas meters which were connected with lead pipes from a two-inch supply pipe, which was not shut off for over four hours after the fire started. The manager and principal owner of the hotel was around with the firemen in the hotel until the fire drove us all out. A police surgeon used his pulmotor on four members of the department after being overcome by smoke and gas. Yet, Medill says in his letters that the members of the department never go inside a building. The manager gave the newspapers a very nice article, commending the work. He also sent the department a letter, thanking them for their good work at the fire, and enclosed a check for $100 for our relief fund. The agents that had the insurance on the hotel say they are satisfied with the work done by the department. I am ready for any committee of citizens. Board of Underwriters, or any one else to look into the work and the past record of the department. Any investigation that does not condemn the work of the department, will not satisfy Medill. Fires, that he speaks about in his letters, are some or those the Mayor and Commisstoncis investigated with him, when he was on the board.”

Work has been begun at Montague. Siskivon County, Cal., on a reservoir which will be circular and 75 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep in the clear, and will be built of reinforced concrete, cemented on the inside, with a roof and the upper portion screened for circulation of air. It is expected that the whole system will be completed by July 1.

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