Chief Hale on Dangers of Fire Fighting.

Chief Hale on Dangers of Fire Fighting.

No city, not even New York, enjoys a mono_____oly in the way of brave firemen. The trouble is, so little is published about their achievements. But, then, firemen and fire chiefs, as a rule, do not boast themselves of their deeds of heroism and their narrow escapes from death in the performance of their duty. On the contrary, they rather blush to find their fame, “such doings being all their days work and some of these never absolutely resist being made the subjects of newspaper notoriety. Every now and then, however, such is their lot, and now George C. Hale, former chief 1 the Kansas City, Mo., fire department, figures, however reluctantly, in rehearsing some narrow escapes from death. More than once he has been given up as dead when falling walls have crashed down apparently upon him. In 1881, for instance, the fire in the Corte Cracker factory furnished experience tnai mme WHO took part in putting it out will every forget. The factory’s growing business had caused its proprietors to take in adjoining buildings, involving the cutting of passage-way doors through the walls which had been materially weakened thereby. At noon on the day of the fire all the cm doyes except a score or so. most yf them girls, had left the business. Those left behind noticed the fall of pieces of plaster, and before they had time to leave the building it collapsed, the floors carrying down with them the ovens used in the business. In a few minutes the whole mass’was a roaring furnace The five companies of the fire department, under Colonel Franc s Foster, soon reached the spot, and rescued nine out of the sixteen who were trapped in the building. Seven lives were lost. The former chief goes on: “How difficult this work was may be seen when it is toln that saws and axes had to be used to cut timbers which imprisoned the r victims. The heat was so intense that a stream of water was kept playing on each party of firemen engaged in rescue. It was during this work that one of the few floors which had survived the first crash fell directly over where Colonel Foster, Frank Baker, Pat Horn, Andrew Scanlon and myself were working. A cry of horror went up from the crowd, for it looked from the street as if we, too, had been buried in the ruins. But the floor fell in such a manner as to make an arch over us, and after crawling out for a moment to make sure the improvised root would hold, we returned to the work of rescue. Four persons were taken out roni that one place. There was more risk of falling walls in taking children from the Lathrop school when tlie bell tower of that building collapsed in 1886. The county court building at Second and Main and several other structures tell during the same storm and between twenty-five and thirty-five persons were rescued by firemen. Due of the most dramatic pages of local fire department history tells of Joseph McGuire’s feat in 1884 during a fire at Sixth and Delaware. There was a pressroom in the subcellar, two stories beloy Sixth street. The funicovercame Barney Me Breen, who had ventured into the cellar. McGuire had a rose tied about hi? body and was let down :nto the sub basement, bringing out his unconscious comrade. McBreen was later killed by falling from a ladder. Former Chief Hale himself had the narrowest of escapes when the Dold packing house burned. He was between two buildings, and falling walls struck the helmet from his head, cut and bruised him and a mass of fiftytons would have ended hs life if timbers, as in the Corle fire, had not frmed a brfilge over his head. At another time he was the first man to reach a fire at Eleventh and Central streets. He crawled into a house, rescued a woman and managed to bring her into the open air just before he fell, exhausted. The old Oglebay home, now the Eagles’ clubhouse, w-as gay that evening. There was a party and when the fire broke out across the street the lawn was filled with guests who had rushed out at the first alarm of fire. With them to encourage him, he made the rescue. Some years later, two women and a man were taken from a fifth storywindow down Sixth and Delaware streets. The eighty-foot ladder barely reached far enough. Mike Connors, Jack Gorman and John C. Egner, now chief, made the rescue. Instances like this may be multiplied to include almost every man in the service. Only a week ago, when a fire broke out in the Rialto building, John McVey of No. 5 steamer fell under the apparatus as it turned over on a slippery corner. The suction-hose protected him, and he escaped uninjured. Alexander Henderson, assistant chief, has been in as many accidents as any man now in the department and is still hale and hearty. The same may be said of Assistant Chief Donovan. That the rescue-impulse makes the fireman sink his own self in that of the rescurcr is the history of the former chief. Hale. ‘Take the case of Mike Hester ot St. Louis,’ he said. ‘Hester was the driver of a truck. When the Southern hotel was afire, and his company reached the fire, he dropped the reins of h s team and raced up the aerial ladder as il was being raised. He was technically violating his duty, yet he saved nine persons and won medals for his service. His explanation was that he could not resist the app-al of these people standing in w’ndows and waiting for rescue.”

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