Chief W. J. Black Has Reduced the Fire Hazard in Atlantic City
The fire hazard of Atlantic City, N. J., has been reduced to a minimum according to a statement made by Chief W. J, Black when interviewed last week. “You know we have no industries in Atlantic City which eliminates the storage of combustibles in quantities,” he said. “Our principal care is to prevent the accumulation of wooden or cardboard boxes, and packing materials by storekeepers. We keep that hazard well reduced. An inspector from the state committee of fire prevention visited us the other day. made a survey, and before he left told me that we had accomplished more than had been recommended by that committee in its last report in the way of improvements,” the chief went on. “Our department is almost completely motorized. All engine companies are motorized. Our fiscal year ends September 1 and then we propose to make arrangements for the motorization of the two remaining trucks.”
It was suggested that the number of frame houses and shingle roofs scattered alnnit the town constituted a serious fire menace. “That may he so,” the chief replied,” but there are not so many of them remaining as one might suppose. They cause us little trouble as we arc equipped to fight fire breaking out among them. When a frame building does get afire, and 50 per cent, or more of the building is destroyed the owner is obliged to rebuild with stone or brick in conformity with a law to that effect which has been in force here for ten years.”
Asked regarding the way in which a fire in one of the tall hotels would be combatted Chief Black said that the city expected to have high pressure in by fall. “Come down stairs,” he added, “and see one of our first capacity Ahrens-Fox engines. We have four of them. Our tallest building is twenty-one stories high.”
The fire house at the corner of Atlantic and California avenues, which Chief Blackmakes his headquarters, is a modern building and houses a truck and an engine com-
pany. Everything conceivable is provided to add to the comfort of the men. A gymnasium fitted with all contrivances warranted to keep a man physically fit, neatly furnished bedrooms and dormitories Hooded with light and air, enameled and tiled washrooms, card rooms, billiard table and piano testify to the untiring efforts of Chief Black to make the confinement as little irksome as possible for the men. The general tidiness of the men’s quarters called forth comment whereupon Chief Black said, “1 find that if you give a man something really nice he will be proud of it and keep it polished up to the Queen’s taste and be happy in his surroundings, whereas, if you put him in a tumbled down unsanitary building he will be correspondingly disinterested and depressed.”
Chief Black has been in command of the Atlantic City fire fighting forces for thirteen years, ever since the paid department was established. Previous to joining the Atlantic City department he served for 25 years w ith the Philadelphia fire department.