CHIEF WILLIAM GUERIN HEADS PYRENE FIRE PREVENTION ENGINEERS
Chief William Guerin, who retired two years ago as head of the Fire Prevention Bureau of the New York City Fire Department, has been chosen by the Pyrene Manufacturing Company, to organize and be chief of its new Engineering Bureau. Chief Guerin, who is one of the foremost authorities in scientific methods of fire prevention, will take to his new work the experience gained by twenty-four years in the fire department, in which he rose from the ranks, through every grade, missing that of chief only by a narrow margin, to take up the important task of establishing the City’s Fire Prevention Bureau, which already has saved the city more than $1,000,000. The new department which Chief Guerin will undertake will fill a need that seldom has been met. Frequently those in charge of mercantile and manufacturing plants, schools, hospitals and other institutions, public buildings, etc., have had no organization, no person to whom they could turn as an authority to ask advice and instructions as to the means of protecting their buildings. For years the heavy drain by fire has gone on; in the United States it is more than $225,000,000 a year. It is to meet this condition that Chief Guerin has been engaged by the Pyrene Company. His standing among those interested in fire protection and prevention is assurance that the work will be conducted on a high plane. Under the direction of Chief Guerin the Pyrene Manufacturing Company will engage a force of forty fire prevention engineers, one for each of its branch offices. These field workers will under the personal direction of Chief Guerin, and will work under the direct supervision of L. A. Turner, formerly Deputy State Fire Marshal of Illinois. The company will also establish a supply department. This will be conducted by Benjamin D. Trask, for the last fifteen years associated with the fire appliance house of S. F. Hayward & Co. Both Mr. Turner and Mr. Trask are known to the entire trade as well as to the fire figthers in every large city. But it is on the shoulders of Chief Guerin that the responsibility will fall. And for his responsibilities the Chief is equipped not only by a long, practical experience, but by wide study of the theory of fire prevention as well as of the legal phases of the many questions involved. This latter question, the legal side, is one that is of increasing importance. Recognizing this, Chief Guerin, while still in the department, studied law, was graduated at St. Lawrence University, and entered the bar in New York State. For the last two years he has been utilizing his knowledge by the practice of law, and has been. consulted by many merchants, factory owners, city and state officials to solve their fire prevention problems. Had Chief Guerin’s advice been followed by the citizens of Hopewell, Va., that city might have been spared the conflagration which early in December wiped out the city with a loss close to $2,000,000. Chief Guerin made an inspection of the city of Hopewell in August at the request of the Business Men’s Association. His recommendations for the protection of the city were exhaustive but they were not acted upon. It was only a few weeks later that the fire came, just as he had predicted and in like measure was the city wiped off the map of Virginia. Aided now by the organization of the Pyrene Manufacturing Company, Chief Guerin’s work will be vastly broadened in scope. His knowledge will be placed at the disposal of the public and not confined to one section of the country. The service, moreover, will be entirely free to the public. At the request of any manufacturer, merchant or public official. Chief Guerin and his aids will make an inspection of their property. They will report on what is needed in the way of fire drills, fire escapes, stairvvays, fire-proofing, sprinkler systems, and apparatus for fighting fire, as well as on the need for methods of preventing the headway or start of a fire. Action taken on such recommendations will aid in reducing the fire risk and this in turn should have a very substantial effect on the insurance premium. Many factories are located far from the centre of the town, and in many instances the fire department has to make such a long run that the flames mav get such a start as to be uncontrollable, unless the employees are organized into an efficient fire fighting corps, and provided with the means of extinguishing any blaze that may occur. Chief Guerin couples his practical knowledge of fire fighting with knowledge of the legal aspect of fires and it is here that he will be able to render great service to the public. Each state, has different requirements and these are all known to the chief who is thus equipped to meet problems that may confront him. An engineering bureau of this kind should, it is argued, be a success and there can be no doubt that its services will be called upon heavily by the property owners of the country. Property owners have been in the habit of looking to their local fire chiefs for advice as to the construction of new plants or the improvement of old to reduce the fire risk. Fire chiefs, however anxious they may be to assist, are oftimes very busy men and can then find little time to give to this branch of work, which is sometimes deputed to others. To have a corps of forty men scattered over the country, and all under the direction of a man like Chief Guerin will bo a distinct gain for the country. Not only will it do its share to make life safer by reducing the personal risk of workers, but also cut the financial losses from fires due to ignorance of what is needed to equip buildings for the emergency that all too frequently has to be met. With the establishment of this engineering bureau, the Pyrene Manufacturing Company will install a complete line of fire supplies and appliances. This line will embrace the various kinds of apparatus used in fighting fire or needed in putting an end to its starting. It will include everything from nozzles to large and elaborate apparatus. It will, it is announced, be possible for a chief to equip his department from top to bottom without leaving the Pyrene offices. Chief Guerin’s rise from the ranks to the top in the New York Fire Department was remarkable. It was one hot July day in 1889 that a boyish looking fellow, tanned with the suns of the seven seas, entered the Fire Headquarters in New York and asked tor the chief. His uniform, that of one of Uncle Sam’s bluejackets, proved a passport to the inner office, and in a moment he stood in the presence of Hugh Bonner. “Well, sir, what can we do for you to-day?” asked the chief. “Want any firemen?” asked the bluejacket, who was none other than Guerin. It was an informal way of applying for a berth, but Chief Bonner liked the young man’s manner and in a very short time, the future chief having got his navy discharge, was clad again in blue, this time with the silver buttons of Father Knickerbocker’s fire fighting lorce. That was the start of his career. It was seven years ago that Pyrene entered the fire extinguisher field with carbon tetrachloride machines. Two years ago Pyrene extinguishers won notable recognition when every insurance company granted fifteen per cent, reduction on the premium on all automobiles insured and equipped with Pyrene. More recently the company was awarded the gold medal. The new supplies department will aim to develop new scientific and practical methods of reducing fire losses and of marketing the high grade, tested and approved articles. Benjamin D. Trask, who will have personal direction of the fire appliances, is known personally to a very large number of the chiefs of the country and his personal knowledge of their needs and their problems, each differing in some measure from the others, gives assuraance of hearty welcome and quick, efficient service. Mr. Trask is enthusiastic over the possibilities of the new department, which he declares will be second to none in the country. “I believe,” he said “that there is a great opportunity in this line. It will be our aim to show consideration to the customers by carrying a very large and complete stock of fire supplies of every description. Orders will be given prompt consideration whether given in person or by mail or wire. Whenever possible shipments will be made the same day the order is received. Our offices are at 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, where the sample room will be located and where everyone will be welcome. I may add that the warmth of the welcome will not be affected by the question of whether you have an order in your pocket or not.” Mr. Turner is one of the well known and competent fire experts of the present day. He has had a wide experience in all branches of inspection and has been relied upon by insurance companies and property owners to pass final judgment on risks involving millions of dollars. Mr. Turner is an authority on matters pertaining to industrial fire prevention and fire fighting. His broad knowledge of what is needed to render buildings safe will supplement Chief Guerin’s judgment. As manager of the service department, Mr. Turner will actively supervise the working force, being in the field all the time, and give the benefit of his experience to those who feel that it can serve them.