Chief’s Discuss Organization and Supervision

Chief’s Discuss Organization and Supervision

Report of Committee of I. A. F. E. on Subject Dissected by Members of Association at Toronto Convention—Continuation of Official Proceedings

(Continued from page 471)

(Discussion of Report of Committee on Organisation and Supervision of Fire Departments)

CHIEF CHARLES S. HAFER, Little Rock, Arkansas—I move you that the secretary be instructed to make note of suggestions that may be made by those who may participate in a discussion of this paper, and that the subject be referred back to the committee as suggested by President Kenlon in his annual report. There is one thing in connection with that paper which to my mind should be well considered, and that is an addition to the section that nothing contained in this ordinance shall prevent a city from conferring upon the chief engineer of the fire department of all the powers and duties of a fire commissioner or fire commissioners. I make the suggestion for the reason that many cities, especially of the smaller class, may feel that they cannot maintain fire commissioners, and there the chief engineer of the fire department should have the duties and powers of fire commissioners. In fact, I think the chief of the fire department of cities of less than 150,000 inhabitants can handle all of the business outlined in the proposed ordinance. I represent a small city of 125,000 people. I have authority to appoint and discharge all men and to purchase or to say what kind of apparatus shall be purchased, and where the fire stations shall be built, and to describe locations for them, and I believe that a chief should have that power. There is another matter which offers a subject for discussion and that is the control of the fire alarm system by the commissioners. I believe that a fire alarm system should be under the chief or the fire commissioners. As far as hydrants are concerned I believe in most cities they are purchased and installed by the water department. But I think the fire department should have authority to determine the location and the kind of fire hydrants to be used and everything of that kind, and that the chief of the department or those in control should be allowed to make certain rules governing their use. But I think they should remain the property of the water department. I think the conferring of entire authority over fire hydrants as proposed in the ordinance would cause a conflict of authority. I therefore think this matter should be carefully considered. And it was with these things in view that I made the motion that the secretary make notes of suggestions offered on the discussion of the paper, and that after full consideration these suggestions and the paper itself be referred back to the committee for further consideration and report at our next convention.

CHIEF RINGER, Minneapolis—It would appear from a reading of that report that we have entered upon an endless chain of work. We will have to continue this convention for the next six months to get through with the reports that seem to be here for submission if we are to discuss them on the floor of this convention. And it appears that none of us know just how large a scope each of our subjects is to cover. You will find in the several reports more or less duplication, endless duplication I might say. And it would seem to me that in order to carry out this work that has been outlined there is but one way for us to proceed, and that would be for the chairmen of the several committees having in charge the several subjects submitted to meet and discuss those subjects; that is, at some time between now and the next convention for the chairmen of the several committees to get together and coordinate these subjects and put them in shape to present them for adoption, but to read all of them now and discuss them and attempt to bring them up to a point where they will be ready for adoption, I see would be an endless task.

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY KESLER, Oklahoma City—Like Brother Ringer, I can see an endless chain here. I have had the privilege in my time of creating and helping to enact various ordinances. I do not believe that in providing an ordinance on a general subject that each section should have a penalty attached to it. That is superfluous. When you pass an ordinance in any city you prepare the ordinance with its several sections and then make a final penalty at the end covering a violation of any of its sections. I want to make a motion as a substitute for the motion pending—as I understand it Chief Ringer made a motion?

FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT Healy—No; he made a suggestion.

MR. KF.SLER-I make a motion that the report be received and placed on file and that the secretary be instructed to have copies of the proposed ordinance made and that all those who wish a copy of same may be furnished therewith on application to the Secretary and at the expense of this association.

CHIEF MOORE-I do not believe any ordinance suggested by this association would fit all conditions and not interfere with city and state laws.

CHIEF BYWATER, Salt Lake City—I want to call attention to just two words in this proposed ordinance. I want you to go home, each and every one of you, and look up your ordinances and see what the definition of the word “vehicle” is. This is one of the most important things I have come up against in my experience in the fire service. Unfortunately two weeks ago tonight one of my companies was going to a fire, and it was going south and a street car was going west. The motorman admitted right on the scene of the accident that he heard the gong on the wagon and saw them coming but he thought he could beat them to it, and he threw on the juice and ran his car across that intersection, and the result was the killing of one of my lieutenants and the maiming in a fearful manner of the balance of the crew. Two days after the accident we had an inquest and through the bright construction put upon the law by the technical peaches that come into the district court it was decided by that district court that no urban car or street car was a vehicle. Gentlemen of the convention, a more scandalous decision I do not think was ever rendered by any court in the United States. I want you men to be as deeply impressed as I was with this accident, this calamity that happened to my boys, and when you go home to look up and see whether these cars that belong to corporations who have neither heart, body nor soul can go out and kill men in that reckless manner and yet go scot free. Boys, look carefully into that matter. We are working up an amendment to our city ordinances so that street cars will be considered as vehicles; and when our next legislature meets we intend to have a state law enacted defining what vehicles are and have the word cover street cars. So I hope you will go back home and look up your ordinances to the end that such a thing may not happen to any of your men.

FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT Healy—A motion has been made that the report on this committee be printed and that the secretary furnish copies thereof to any who may apply therefor, and that it be referred back to the committee for further consideration and report at the next convention. What is the pleasure of the convention?

CHIEF SOMMER, Lincoln, Neb.—If I understand the purpose of these various topics and reports the idea was for the committees to present their topics and then to have discussion on them. If these reports are printed in pamphlet form and sent out to anyone who wants a copy you will not be getting anywhere. You do not get anything but the report. And it is undoubtedly true that all of them would be defective. It is my opinion that these reports should be fully discussed here and that we might get the benefit of the experience of all of the members. As a case in point take the suggestion just made by Chief Bywater, of Salt Lake City. He has had an experience that has been a very serious one to his department, and yet it is a matter that might be overlooked by others unless they were informed by Chief Bywater of the experience he has had. It is true that with ten reports up for consideration it will take a long time to have them read and discussed, and yet if we are to accomplish something at our conventions we must lay out a definite plan and then follow it. I think we should take up these reports and discuss them and go as far as we can with them.

CHIEF MURPHY, PHILADELPHIA-IS this one of the reports of one of the committees Chief Kenlon referred to a while ago?


CHIEF Murphy—As we understood from President Kenlon there art about ten committee reports here for consideration. It seems to me whatever disposition you make of this report the same disposition would probably be advisable for the other reports. I have a report here. My report is rather voluminous and yet it is one that I could not very well cut down. It might be that if the reports were announced by title, or read by title, that the chairman or some of the personnel of the committee would want to be relieved. I am not going to make a motion but merely make the suggestion that it would be well to read the balance of the reports by title and announce the personnel of the committees which present the several reports, and then the convention might decide what it will do. I do not see how it would do any good to make some disposition of this report in one way and then when some other report is brought up make some disposition of it in another way. I would suggest that Chief Kenlon, who started this propaganda work, be heard on this subject.

CHIEF Kenlon—Mr. President, perhaps at this time a word of explanation might clear the skies. The title of that paper, as I understand it, is the Organization and Supervision of Fire Departments. Perhaps it would be well to consider if it is within the province of the fire chiefs of the United States and Canada to discuss and to set up what they think should be the basis of an organized fire department. You know that some fire departments are organized with a board of fire commissioners and some are under the control of the fire chief, while others have a committee of the City Council to control them. The point is for the fire chiefs to express themselves on the subject and say what in their opinion the organization of a fire department should be, how it should be organized. It is not possible to take up the ordinances in a city and apply them to all other cities. I have read that paper prepared by Chief Healy. He accompanied it as I suggested with a diagram showing just exactly in diagrammatic form where a fire department would stand, with a chief at the head, and then his battalion chief, and the fire alarm, telegraph, and so on down. So that you will have before you in the end when it is completed, if it is ever completed, just exactly what you men here who are standing at the head of your respective fire departments and are spending your lives in the fire service would consider the proper way to organize a fire department.

You will notice that the report is in two parts. You next come to the supervision of the fire department. Some of the questions which may arise are: Should the fire chief be in charge of the different branches of the fire department? Should a committee of the board of alderman or the common council or of both be in charge? Should seven or eight men be designated as fire commissioners and be put in charge? Or should there be one single commissioner in charge? What is your opinion on the subject? That is what Chief Sommer had in mind, that this organization would speak out from its experience and knowledge and that the members would state what in their opinion is the proper method of establishing each department, and of supervising them. It would be impossible to pass an ordinance that would apply to each and every city on this continent. In my opinion the matter of an ordinance is superfluous. I think that report can be boiled down, very materially boiled down. I think if the committee would take it up in that spirit and bring it down to the point where it would be ready for adoption here as a standard of fire department organization and supervision then you would have established your first standard.

And so it is with the next one. The next report that is to come along has to do with the organization and strength of companies. You have organized strength in a company and you have operating strength. You may have 16 men on the roll of a company but what we want to know is how many men we should have when we roll up to a fire. I think that is a subject well within the province of the fire chief. I notice that men outside the fire departments have submitted standards for us to go by, and yet we, as the best authority in this country on this subject, have never laid down a standard. I think we might equally, without regard to what system you are working under, say what the operating strength of a fire company should be. Is it six or seven or eight, or five, or what? How many men can you put a fire out with? That is a simple matter.

I think when you understand what we are driving at you will have no hesitancy in speaking out and saying just what you think. And so as you go down the line do the same thing with the several matters. We want a full, free and fair expression from the chiefs on their own business, on the business you gentlemen have spent your lives in. When men on the outside who have never gone to a fire attempt to sit down and write standards surely you who have spent your whole lives in the service can do so.

The hesitancy so far shown may be because of lack of grasp of the situation. I noticed that the first reports that I received showed that the committee chairmen and the members of the committees did not grasp the idea at all. And I naturally did not expect that they would at the start. But after a while they began to feel their way, to find themselves, and Chief Healy made a very good effort at establishing what I would call a standard of organization. But when he went into the matter of submitting ordinances, and all that kind of thing, to cover a department with a view to having the same applicable to all cities, it was going a little too far. That is not necessary. But after all it simplifies the thing and it is not such a big job.

If there is anyone here who would like to ask me any questions, because I have thought the matter out and had it in mind— and you all seem to agree with me that if we are fire engineers we ought to be able to establish a fire engineering standard—I say, if you wish to ask me any questions I shall be glad to attempt to answer them. I think we are more able to establish standards that will fit the practical workings of the everyday fire department than are the engineers of the National Board, or the National Fire Protection Association, or any other body. And that is because in the very nature of things they have not had the same experience in these matters that we have had. And surely we are able to get down to engineering practice. I think it would be a very good thing to do with that report what has been suggested. It is a very good beginning. And these remarks that I am making now will be before the committee during the coming year, and any remarks that you may make will be before that committee, and I think the report will come back in a very much stronger form. I honestly believe that the next time it comes back it will be pretty nearly right. It is probably one of the most difficult questions to deal with. The next one you will be far stronger on. There is not a man in this room but who knows just how many men he should have in a company in order to effectively do fire business. He knows what the organized strength of his company should be, and he knows what the strength of his company should be in order to give efficient service at a fire. So I think the next one will be more to your liking, and will be getting down to real fire department work. I am much obliged to yflu for your attention, and do not believe I have anything more to say at this time.

FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT Healy—I wish to say that supplementary to the report we have prepared there is appended a diagram, as you will see here. For supervision we have at the top a fire commissioner who is responsible to the people. He may be appointed by the mayor or elected by the people, or may be selected by Board of Aldermen or any other body which has the power to do so.

In the preparation of our report we had to take into consideration the many other committees that were appointed by President Kenlon. We had to make up in our diagram a place to cover them as well as laying the foundation for them in the report, to include them in the report, or if we did not include them in the report they would not be included here in the final report. We have as the powers of the commissioner or commissioners the following: Power to expend appropriations; make rules and regulations for department; appointments; promotions, retirements and pensions. On the other side we show that he or they have power to select sites for fire stations and make contracts to erect same; to select sites for fire hydrants and fire alarm boxes. Regardless of whether or not the fire commissioner has anything to do with the management or control of your water departments he ought to be allowed, inasmuch asjie is the head of the fire department, to select the locations of hydrants because in turn he will receive his instructions from the chief of your fire department, and he being the one selected by the proper official selecting him he would naturally be in a position to speak as a duly qualified city official to whoever is in charge of the water department and to tell them that hydrants are necessary at certain places. So that he has included in his duties also the fire alarm boxes.

Then you come down to the chief of the fire department, who is subordinate to your commissioner or commissioners. If you will consider these matters carefully you will be all the better prepared to receive and understand the reports of the other committees who are to make reports. The chief of the fire department has control of the condition of fire stations and apparatus, and so forth. It is one of his duties to see to the organization and strength of companies. Chief Murphy is going to present a report on that subject. He has the assignment of members to companies; assignments and responses to alarms; condition of fire hydrants and control; drills, schools and training. You have a committee to report on that subject. He has charge of apparatus repair shop and motor schools, etc. That is taken care of among the general duties of the chief of a fire department, and a committee is going to make a report on that topic. Along with that he has in charge the Bureau of Fire Prevention. You have a committee to report on that. He has the bureau of fire fighting, and the extinguishment of fires and salvage. You have a committee to report on that. He has the bureau of fire alarm, that Chief Kenlon referred to. That, too, is taken care of in this report. In addition to that you have the fire manual. That is taken care of in this report. You have fire prevention. Chief McDonnell has a report to submit on fire control. That is contained in here.

(To be continued)

The Director of Public Safety of Cleveland, Ohio, has ordered the of a Cadillac roadster for First Assistant Chief Granger.

The Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1, of the Stonington, Conn., fire department, recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary. It was organized by Edward P. Teed, who is now chief engineer of the Stonington department.

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