Chief Eldridge Misrepresented.
Through a most unaccountable blunder on the part of one of our contemporaries, whose comments and news are generally most reliable, there appeared a very severe criticism of the way in which Chief Eldridge, of Portland, Me., recently handled a fire in that city. It was to the effect that Chief Eldridge, who has been connected with the fire department of Portland for thirty-six years, and has been retained in office by men of a totally different political stripe from himself, is an “inexperienced firemanthat he was guilty of the great delay in getting the automatic steamer to work; that he used hydrant, when engine streams were required; that there was not dry hose enough, and that some necessary tools were lacking; that a line of hose was carried up through a carriage-shop in the rear of the burning building, and not up the ladder, and that the hreboat’s machinery was out of order through neglect and, therefore, could not be utilised properly. Chief Eldridge emphatically denies every count in the indictment, except that the hydrantpressure was low; but that (he says) is “not news.” His unasked for witnesses testify that the reason why there was apparent delay in getting the selfpropelling engine to work was that hose for it was “attached to the hydrants, there being 70 lb. pressure per square inch, and was used until it was seen that engine streams were re quired. Meanwhile the hose wagon had been ordered to go back to the house for new hose. When it was time to use the engine, dry hose was lacking, not tools. As the chief’s instructions had not been followed, he personally ordered the driver to get the hose.” The streams were carried up through the carriage shop in the rear, because the chief’s orders to carry it up the ladder were not followed out—a piece of disobedience which will, of course, be punished. As to the tireboat: “It was low tide, and the engine was compelled to lift the water from a point 1,000 ft. down the wharf to the top of the building at an effective working pressure. That meant a tremendous drain on the engine. A bolt gave way, as they will, in spite of every precaution on engines which are not subjected to such tremendous pressure. It was an accident which could not have been foreseen, and of such a peculiar nature that it could not be readily repaired.” The whole of the article abounded in misrepresentations and just such unfair statements as those which are answered above. The mayor of the city writes: “I have the utmost faith and confidence in the chief of the department and in the men under him. For years the Portland department has been considered among the finest in the country, and the statement that the men connected with the department are ‘frightened’ is too absurd to take any notice of, while the reference to Chief Eldridge characterising him as ‘inexperienced’ is even more ridiculous.” Another letter says [“The article] must have been written by someone who is biased, or who was entirely unfamiliar with the facts.” The paper in which the article appears states that the writer was a “representative insurance man and a leading business man.” It would be interesting to know if any friction had ever existed between the chief and the insurance companies of the city, or if, as a “business man,” the writer had an axe to grind.