Chief J. W. Randlette Retires
Chief J. W. Randlette of the Richmond, Maine. Fire Department is retiring from active duty after thirty-three vears service.
In 1910 he was elected a fire ward of the town, the fire wards having charge of the fire department at fires. This was in the days of hand-drawn fire apparatus, and the only equipment consisted of hand drawn hose heels and a ladder truck. Only such fires as came within the radius of hydrant pressure could be handled.
One of the Chief’s first acts of fire activity was while a student in the University of Maine, where he organized a student hose company on the college campus. This small company subsequently was the means of saving the only college dormitory on the campus from destruction.
After his election as a fire ward, and realizing the futility of propelling the fire apparatus by hand, he arranged with local grocery concerns to use their delivery wagons to haul the apparatus in case of fire. When motor fire apparatus became popular, he planned to motorize the apparatus and in 1926 he organized the Richmond Fire Apparatus Association, which was incorporated and had for its purpose the purchasing of motor equipment for the fire department. By solicitation Chief Randlette raised sufficient money to purchase the first triple combination pumping engine. In 1927 this apparatus was delivered, and shortly after he started the organization of a regular fire department under the statutes of Maine, and established the first organized department by town ordinance.
By 1933 the entire department was motorized, the work being done by the members of the department without expense to the town. The last piece of apparatus purchased was a service truck with a portable pumping engine that could be used from the truck or carried to any location where water could be obtained. The apparatus was designed to take care of forest fires and anv fire in the outlying districts of the towm. This piece has proven to be the most valuable of any in the department because of the many uses to which it has been put. It has been used as the first call piece for any fire and has extinguished seventy-five per cent of the fires.
In 1933 the Chief also established the first fire signal system to be used in the town, with a master box in the telephone office connected with an electrical siren which he had coded. During the progress of building up the fire department he organized the Firemen’s Relief Association, which was designed to assist any fireman who might be injured or who from exposure mig;ht become ill.
He is a member of the State Association of Fire Chiefs of Maine, the New England Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Chiefs: the first two organizations he served as President.